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Open relationships get more action

By Niko Bell, The Sex Collective


What if I told you that you could prevent anyone from ever cheating on you? What if through one simple action you could make your relationship one hundred per cent bulletproof to infidelity?

Well, you can. All you have to do is permit it.

And an open relationship can do much more. It is also a balm for radically mismatched libidos, an ointment for long-distance blues, and a salve for mid-relationship boredom. It can even give you and your partner more to talk about. Perhaps most importantly, opening a relationship ensures that your partner is doing what he or she wants, not just what he or she feels obligated to do.

But here is where it gets sticky. Most of us don’t really like the idea of our partners having sex with other people, much less having romantic feelings for them.

This is pretty understandable. Some will just never be able to bear the thought of their partner with another person, and that’s ok. Some people cannot experience a fulfilling relationship if it is not exclusive. Some of us, however, just like the attention of exclusivity. We could overcome our drive to possess another person, but we choose not to. If this is the case, we are being held back by jealousy. Jealousy is compelling because it builds the fantasy that our partners never want anyone else. A relationship can be free of jealousy and still monogamous. Openness and honesty are what make the difference.

The most low-key way of opening a relationship is to simply agree to talk about your feelings and attractions for other people. It’s a practice in trust and honesty, and it isn’t easy; but being truthful never is. If talking is as far as you get, that’s great. If you want to go forward, though, you don’t have to be one hundred per cent ‘open’ from square one. Decide with your partner what being open means for the both of you, whether it’s talking, flirting, kissing, sex, or enthusiastic square dancing.

If you have ever been in an open relationship, you may have discovered a second sticky point. Maybe you want your partner to want you to be monogamous.

Freedom doesn’t always fulfill the desire to feel possessed. Because of this, it’s important that you make your partner feel that you care what he or she does, but that you just don’t mind. An open relationship isn’t about turning a blind eye; it’s about supporting what your partner does.

It is absolutely possible to appreciate and cherish a relationship without possession. Shut a butterfly in a box for three days. If you like it any more by the end, break up with your partner and become an entomologist.

The greatest obstacle to opening a relationship, however, may be bringing it up to your partner. Who wants to be the first one to say anything?

This is a little like that time you admitted your affection to your crush in junior high school. The imagined potential benefits made it worthwhile, but you knew you could be setting yourself up for a big failure.

But in this case, you are not as certain of failure as you were with your high school crush. Couples seldom talk about this aspect of their relationship, so you really don’t know what your partner is thinking. Approach the topic with discretion and respect, and you’ll be ok.

Remember that there are benefits to opening your partner’s side of the relationship even if your partner does not want you to experience the same freedoms. A good place to start is to let your partner know that even though you respect monogamy, you don’t require it from your partner. You can express your openness without pressure, and start the conversation moving. In the end, honesty, sincerity and attentiveness are the universal lubricants of a relationship – without them nothing can go very right, and with them nothing can go very wrong.

Needless to say, only say that you’re ok with your partner’s extracurricular activities if and when you really are. Allowing your partner freedom as a way to coerce them into giving it to you is a stupid and manipulative thing to do. There are lots of bad reasons to open a relationship. Pressuring your partner by saying that you might otherwise cheat, opening a relationship as a way to bail out a sinking ship, or demanding unequal terms are all great ways to torpedo yourself.

An open relationship won’t fix a bad situation, and won’t stop a dishonest person from being dishonest. Nobody—man, woman, or genderfabulous rockstar—has a license to cheat. If you can’t handle a tricycle, don’t try mountain biking. If you can’t trust your partner to be monogamous, don’t think an open relationship will help. Suffice to say that if you feel uncomfortable talking openly and honestly about any part of the process, then forget about it.

It is also important to note that having sex with additional people exposes you and your partner to an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections. If you aren’t comfortable talking about this to your partner, you probably should not be having sex with each other, let alone others.

I would only like us to ask ourselves if we have heartfelt reasons for demanding monogamy from our partners. Sometimes we do. Perhaps, however, regulated monogamy is too comfortable for our own good. Even if we want to be monogamous, isn’t it better to do so out of free will than necessity?

So, I challenge you all to consider trading a little bit of security for some truth and freedom.

The exchange rate is good these days.


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