In high school, I never had many boyfriends.
I never liked the idea of giving up my freedom - to any particular person.
To this day, nothing much has changed.
I still like my freedom. The difference now, I’m happy to explore connections with others (man or women) further and deeper.
Does this make me weird?
Does this mean I’m incapable of being faithful to one person?
For me personally, it's a choice.
Both monogamy and non-monogamy has its place in society.
Interestingly, what most people don't know about open relationships is, there’s not much difference between traditional relationships - or any other relationship in order for them to thrive.
Trust, communication, honesty. It’s all the same thing but in different relationship templates.
Here’s the good news.
In this ultimate guide to open relationships, I’ll answer all the questions about whether these types of relationships work and can they last.
And the best part…
It comes from my some personal experiences.
What is an open relationship
There are two ways to describe an open relationship, so it really depends on who is answering.
An open relationship is an umbrella term used to describe relationships which are non exclusive.
This can be anything from polyamory to swingers and anything in between whereby the relationship is open.
If monogamy is closed/ exclusive relationship. Then non monogamy is open/ non exclusive relationship.
The second (and notably more common) definition of an open relationship is, when two partners, referred to as primary partners, agree to open their relationship up physically, but not romantically.
In other words, you're not limited to each other. You openly and lovingly explore other possibilities.
How does an open relationship work
Open relationships work in various ways, depending on the type of open relationship your in.
Typically though, an open relationship works, with a primary partner as your main partner and from there you open your relationship up to involve other sexual but not romantic connections.
Just like monogamous relationships, open relationships have their firm boundaries and rules which are negotiated between the primary partners.
Your primary partner takes priority over any other partners and both parties must be willing to work through their insecurities and form a strong foundation of respect, trust and communication.
Let’s be honest.
The same principles should apply to any relationships - closed or open.
Types of open relationships
As mentioned earlier, open relationships is an umbrella term which encapsulates all non monogamous relationships.
Let's have a look at each one in more detail.
As mentioned earlier an open relationship involves two primary partners.
Think of this as the core of the relationship. From this core, both partners are giving permission to explore other sexual partners.
Although sexual experimentation is encouraged, it’s also where the buck stops.
Romance is off limits.
Polyamory is the act of being involved in more than one romantic connection.
The difference between an open and polyamory relationship is, there are no primary partners.
All partners are treated equally.
Equal time. Equal sex. Equal emotional support.
Although Polyamory is limited to a certain number of partners, it becomes a logistical nightmare when romantic partners exceed five or more.
In the Poly community this is known as Polystaurated.
Polyamory is about not limiting yourself to one person and, more love is a good thing.
Swinging as it’s commonly referred too, involves couples who are in committed relationships having sex with other couples.
Swingers often engage in this activity as a couple.
As swingers sex is the objective and tend to reframe from any emotional or romantic outside their existing relationships.
Therefore swinging is often promoted and practised at certain parties, clubs and other *special events.
There are a few other variations from Monogamish to Polyfidelity but in truth there's very little difference in the mechanics of how these relationships work, really it's it just picking at the details.
Do open relationships work
Most of the time.
If both primary partners are prepared to do the work.
What do I mean by ‘the work’?
Well...like any relationship both people have to be prepared to invest time and energy into the relationship.
However, the difference between closed and open relationships is both have to prioritise working on themselves too.
This means confronting any insecurities head on.
Let’s be clear.
Open relationships will expose a lot of unpleasant emotions. From jealousy to fear and everything else in between.
That’s not easy for most people.
But, for the rare couples who actively embrace their evolution, then this could be the type of relationship you've been looking for.
Why open relationships don't work
Open relationships don't work for one reason.
Yup, I hate it to say.
Such a beautiful template built on the foundation of freedom and love can and will be destroyed overnight when our animalistic nature (the need to guard our intimate spaces) takes over.
Second to jealousy, the root of most open relationship woes, is the breakdown in honesty.
Little discrepancies here and there, overtime, take their toll.
The result a downward spiral of trust, leading to accusation and a break down in communication.
It’s important to note here: It’s common to see one partner, shy away from an open relationship in favour of monogamy.
Yet feels duty bound.
This is usually a recipe for disaster and where many open relationships break down.
Before you consider an open relationship, know what you’re getting into and seriously think about your boundaries.
Otherwise, you’ll be left with a broken heart before it’s even begun...
Open relationships pros and cons
All relationships have their pros and cons. Open relationships are no different.
But do the pros outweigh the cons?
Let’s take a deep dive into both.
What are the pros
Maintaining your identity
Here’s a question.
Should you sacrifice yourself to be with another?
If you answered yes, then monogamy is probably for you. If you answered no, then you're reading the right post.
Ok. I maybe a little harsh. But, there is an element of truth.
Let me explain.
A few years ago I read a book by Dain Heer talking about an analogy connected to monogamous relationships.
In his analogy, he spoke about when two people begin a relationship they have all their 'limbs'. As the relationship develops each partner begins to slowly lose a body part.
Sounds morbid, but bear with me.
What he’s trying to say here is, in monogamous relationship, sooner or later both people, lose a piece of themselves in order to mould with another.
Open relationships, on the other hand, promote and encourage your individual identity.
It’s never about fitting into anyone's life, but rather about taking responsibility for your own life.
Including the biggest thing you can retain. Your own identity.
Trust me. I’ve learnt the hard way.
Love is about appreciation
Is love about possession or is love about appreciation?
Most people would at least prefer to answer appreciation, but how many actually embody this notion?
You see, our society perceives love quite differently to what love really is.
First up, let's define what love is.
“an intense feeling of deep affection”
Interesting, it doesn't mention possession?
So why is it, you see so many monogamous relationships start off on a good foot, only to follow into a web of ownership and possession?
The answer lies within our misinterpretation and old beliefs system surrounding love.
The truth is.
Most of us (me included) don't really know what love is.
Let’s get real.
Relationships and love aren't one of the same thing. But, they have a habit of falling under the same umbrella.
The danger here is, love doesn't solve any of your relationship problems and/ or your individual ones either.
If anything, it only highlights your insecurities.
Which is why most monogamous relationships have a habit of being a little toxic. Not always, I agree. But most of the time.
Whereas open relationships favour self alchemy as a matter of priority, otherwise they just can work.
To add, open relationships favour freedom and appreciation over possession and ownership.
Remember a relationship doesn't always guarantee love.
Sexual freedom is as much about having other sexual partners as it is saying no to your existing partner and that’s ok.
Variety is healthy, especially in relationships.
Having the freedom to explore sexual connections with others feels exciting, liberating and naughty.
The space which is created from sexual freedom inadvertently creates more desire, deeper intimacy and encourages your sexual energy to it's fullest.
And before you're quick to judge. This isn’t about having sex with anyone.
It’s the fact you can.
And, this is freedom, is everything.
Self love on steroids
For open relationships to work, both primary partners must do a ton of work on themselves.
That said, it’s not always easy.
Open relationships expose our deepest fears and insecurities. These are often triggered when your partner is dating someone new.
Jealousy is often the most common emotion to surface. More on that later.
Interestingly, the antidote to jealousy is self love.
In open relationships, you really to need to love the fuck out of yourself.
The more you love who you are, the less fear and insecurities you will experience.
Thankfully there are many benefits of self love. So, it's only going to be a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, monogamous relationships have to deal with the same issues, but these tend to lie dormant.
Whereas, open relationships are regularly exposed and are the source of much personal growth.
Which leads me to my last point.
Do you like to evolve and expand your consciousness?
Do you actively seek opportunities in your life where you can do this?
Well, open relationships are at its core a journey of self alchemy.
And, this self academy includes healing old wounds, peeling away the layers of social programs, breaking through old belief systems and the act of living consciously.
Sounds pretty good, eh?
This too, can be the case in monogamous relationships, but all too often you see the opposite.
Very rarely have I seen two people encouraged to fully explore their unlimited potential. Instead, it’s often “please don’t grow, because it’s likely we’ll grow apart”.
That’s the end of another relationship.
Open relationships, are a breeding ground of personal growth. Lifting the veil to see our true selves.
Granted, this is uncomfortable and scary, but it leads to massive personal transformation and to your soul's evolution.
As Jim Morrison once wrote ”Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear”.
I couldn't agree more.
What are the cons
I grew up thinking expressing emotions was a bad thing. Instead, it’s better to keep your emotions in tact.
Expressing them, is a sign of venerability. A sign of weakness.
This wasn’t my parents fault. Nor wasn’t my fault.
It’s what I learnt through social conditioning. I’ve later realised this is most people's experience.
So, it’s of little wonder why we all shy away from anything that may involve heightened emotions.
Open relationship, on the other hand, exposes your emotions and feelings and places them under a spotlight.
It’s here you left to confront them.
If you're someone who struggles with your emotions, then open relationships may not be the right choice for you, right now.
As you develop better emotional responses and practices on how to deal with emotions, you'll learn to embrace your emotions, rather than fear them.
This is a big hurdle for most people who would like to explore the possibilities of open relationships.
All I can suggest here is, take things slowly. As your emotions unravel, so too can your boundaries be moved.
Limited resources/ Feeling isolated
Have you heard the saying; Birds of a feather flock together?
Well, you don’t find many birds when it comes to open relationships.
In other words, you're often left to paddle your own canoe. And, this can be really hard.
There's a lot more information out there than there used to be and slowly people are becoming more accepting of these types of relationships, but a couple of key resources and a community can really go a long way.
Especially when it comes to navigating through difficult or turbulent times.
A mainstream relationship coach isn’t going to be able to relate, like an open relationship coach will.
But these are hard to come by.
You go through a period of feeling different, weird, outcasted for your different beliefs.
This can feel pretty lonely for a long time.
The limited resource on offer can make the entire open relationships landscape much more difficult to navigate.
Most relationships are time consuming. Nevermind relationships which involve multiple people.
For this reason, open relationships can be a logistical nightmare.
Time is a scarce resource at the best of times.
Nevermind when you're juggling different schedules, kids, friends and not to mention each individual's needs and attention.
This can easily become one giant headache.
Did I mention time for yourself.
Good luck with that.
Open relationships get round this with sharing google calendars to manage time more effectively.
As much as this is needed, this is also a sure fire way to kill spontaneity.
And, if I'm honest, on a practical level this might not work for everyone.
Your business quite literally becomes their business.
I know this is somewhat true with monogamous relationships, but it is vital for open relationships to have all communication channels open with transparency all the time.
When everything is 'out on the table' open relationships work well. But this does come at the cost of your own privacy.
Does it really matter if I wore my green or purple g string?
Yeah, it matters a lot. Especially, in the beginning.
Understandably, both partners have to completely open with another, but sometimes this can feel like an intrusion of personal space.
If you leave any doubt in your partners mind that you’ve not been completely honest about something, this can quickly escalate and spiral out of control.
Some (not all) open relationships struggle to return to a sense of 'normality', once the seed of mis trust has been planted.
Remember, honesty comes at the cost of your own privacy.
Live by the sword die by the sword
Ok, that may be a little dramatic. But, you know what I'm getting at.
Rules are enforced to ensure everybody knows where they stand.
Ultimately, nobody actively wants to hurt another person. Rules are there to make sure this doesn't happen.
Although, it’s not a guarantee.
Rules are boundaries. And, these rules must be adhered too. Sometimes this can feel a little stifling.
I know in my own life, I find rules really boring and I do everything in my power to break them. With open relationships you simply don’t have this luxury. As most of the time when a rule is broken it’s at the expenses of the other.
“Oh shit. I wasn’t supposed to have round two”.
Flipping the rules and seeing them as a blessing is a way of changing your perception of them.
Rules act as a way protecting one another. Every bit of security and protection you can get, is worth it, especially in the beginning.
As both people expand and develop healthy relationship practise, the rules tend to relax a little.
Jealousy in open relationships
Jealousy in open relationships is without doubt the most basic and normal emotion you’ve got to confront on a regular basis.
Research shows, jealousy might be hardwired into our genes. If this is the case, we all experience different levels of jealousy and for very different reasons.
I know from my personal experience, if I feel someone is a threat to my family, biologically I will be engulfed with more jealousy.
On the other hand, if someones already got their 'shit sorted', my biological jealousy is somewhat less.
As much as jealousy, is an all consuming physiological and mental emotion, it’s still only an emotion.
And emotions are only travellers. Their intention is not to set up full time residence in your body.
Again, where not told how to deal with these types of emotions.
Let's be honest.
It's not completely natural to wish your partner a good night as he or she leaves the door into the arms of another.
Sometimes our jealousy can teach us something about ourselves which we weren't aware of.
Maybe we need to love ourselves more. Maybe we need to talk to our inner child a little more. There are many beautiful and empowering lessons which lie within our jealousy.
Most people won’t even give open relationships a go, for the sheer fear of having to deal with jealousy.
Anyway, jealousy is a from of flattery. It means you still care and have feelings for the person.
That can't be a bad thing? can it?
Dating someone in an open relationships
Have you heard of being the third wheel?
Dating someone in an open relationship can at times feel like this.
Although, this is not their intention, it's just that their priority lies with their primary partner.
Let’s be clear here.
That doesn't mean you can turn your feelings on and off or someone.
Once your into someone, go with it.
One thing will be perfectly clear to you. You'll always know where where you stand from the very beginning so it won’t come as a surprise if you can't demand all of his or her attention.
Like all relationships, each have their pros and cons which over time you will need to weigh up and see if this meets your wants and needs within a relationship dynamic.
One thing, I will guarantee.
Dating someone in an open relationship will do wonders to your own personal growth and self alchemy.
2020 The birth of new relationship templates
It’s time to say goodbye.
Goodbye to old relationships templates.
Goodbye to relationships harbouring toxicity, ownership and possession.
Now you know open relationships can work. You know they can last. And you even know the many benefits of a an open relationship.
As Osho once wrote:
If you love a flower, don't pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be.
It’s time to take the leap of faith.
Are you ready?
Let’s do this thing.