You hear it all the time.
Relationships are hard. Relationships don’t work. Relationships suck.
And it's true, most monogamous relationships flat-out don't work.
So, have you ever stopped to think what other options are out there?
How about an open relationship?
Contrary to what you may have heard about these ‘other types’ of relationships, they can be wildly beneficial and successful for all individuals involved.
Mastering these types of relationship dynamics can feel exciting, freeing and equally loving.
If you stick with me, in this post you’ll discover the benefits of an open relationship, you’ll appreciate their place in society and you’ll have a better understanding of why they're perfect for the right couple.
Hold your judgment back...
Let’s get stuck in.
Do open relationships work?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret...
Open relationships do work and they often work really well.
However, unlike more conventional relationships they need one very important and key ingredient.
Are you ready for it?
They require you to do a ton of work on yourself.
What does this mean?
OWN YOUR OWN SHIT!!!
Let’s break this down a little.
In an open relationship the responsibilities of any emotions felt lie with the individual. Your partner is there to offer support, love, and encouragement, but NOT to take responsibility.
That shit is yours.
Old wounds from childhood or in your current life which you've previously tried to push away are addressed and healed by the individual and NOT projected onto partners.
Insecurities, fears, jealousy, unworthiness, even abandonment issues, are the sole responsibility of the individual, not the partner.
If the individuals in an open relationship are committed to doing the work on themselves, then they don't just work, they flourish.
The co-dependency trap
Monogamy thrives on co-dependency.
Or, maybe it's the other way around...
...co-dependency thrives in monogamy.
You see, it's not about working on yourself, it's about fitting into to the other person needs, wants and/or expectations.
These types of relationships allow you to take shelter from emotional storm(s), however, in open relationships you can't.
Because, most monogamous relationships are based on a false premise of "You make me complete".
Rather than, "I am complete".
I call this 'The Codependency Trap'.
This trap is a toxic cycle whereby couples are expected to fulfil all the needs of their partners.
The complete opposite of open relationships.
Look at any Hollywood film and they portray this really well.
A grown man, surrendering to his knees in the falling rain, crying for his beloved.
"I can't be happy without you" he gasps.
This narrative is everywhere in mainstream culture. The notion of depending on someone else for your own happiness. But is this a good thing?
This isn't healthy. This is fucking toxic!
Worst still, co-dependancy encourages us to lose ourselves in order to complete another.
Are open relationships healthy?
Yep, that’s right.
Open relationships are built on trust, communication and radical honesty.
So damn right they're healthy.
When these values are shared by both partners, this creates a sacred place to explore the unlimited possibilities of love, partnership and sexual freedom.
Love has no agenda. Love has no labels. Love has no chains.
Love is about appreciation, not about possession.
When you come from a place of wholeness within yourself as does your partner(s), this brings about the best kind of synergy no matter what the relationship label is.
So why do open relationships get such a bad wrap?
When something is new and challenges peoples perspective or the status quo, it's deemed as weird. Period. People fear things they don’t understand or are unfamiliar with.
Oftentimes they're quick to pass judgments and throw away presumptions.
Here are a few examples I’ve had.
“Oh, so you like shagging more people than just your partner” ummmm no.
“So you don’t really like your partner that’s why you need to have other people involved” ummmmm quite the opposite actually.
“So you’re really afraid to say you’re gay so you open your relationship up to include girls” ummmm nope, I’m just open :).
It’s these kinds of statements which give open relationships a bad name, yet they couldn’t be further from the truth.
The key to any relationship no matter what the label is to have physical, emotional and spiritual connections with people who share the same frequency.
Love yourself first and foremost and the rest will take care of itself.
What are the different types of open relationships?
Open relationship is a broad term that encompasses many different relationship types under one umbrella with the main defining factor in their being non-exclusive.
Let’s break down each one:
*For the sake of defining each type, I'm going to take advantage of Wikipedia's definition, as everybody has their two cents worth. With a little twist from me, of course.
A marriage or relationship in which both partners agree that each may have sexual relations with others.
Me - The primary partnership takes precedence over any other external relationship or lovers.
Comes from the Greek word poly, "many, several", and Latin amor, "love" is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved. It has been described as "consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy". People who identify as polyamorous believe in an open relationship with a conscious management of jealousy; they reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving relationships.
Me - There are no primary or secondary partners, several relationships are involved simultaneously and all viewed equally.
Sometimes called wife swapping, husband swapping or partner swapping, is sexual activity in which both singles and partners in a committed relationship engage in such activities with others as a recreational or social activity.
Me - Sex is the agenda. Relationships are not.
There are a few more off-shoots like Polygamy and Monogamish, but really, they are pretty much just variations of these main three.
It’s a bit like sexuality these days, before, you were either straight, gay or bi. But now... holy shit we've got gender fluid, gender curious, panzexual, WTF! I mean seriously, have you been on Tinder lately this list goes on and on.
So I’m going to keep it pretty simple here, and we’ll stick with these main three.
Now, here’s the thing.
The relationship type is unimportant, but, it can be quite useful for the following reasons.
- To help classify it to your friends, work colleagues, potential future partners
- To help with relationship boundaries between you and your partner (which depends on your relationships status).
- For you, and your personal identity.
- Tinder 😉
Whichever relationship label you personally identify with you’ll find out pretty quickly which ones right for you and your partner.
8 Benefits of an open relationship
As it turns out there are host of benefits in an open relationship.
However, this dosent mean it's for everyone.
So, before you jump into reading the benefits, understand that all relationship have their ups and downs, and an open relationship is no different.
Abraham Hicks once wrote “The purpose of life is joy, the basis of life is freedom”. And, I tend to agree. Open relationships promote free will as one its primary values.
Freedom to make your own decisions, freedom to own your actions, and the freedom to learn, grow and expand as an individual.
Open relationships encourage you to maintain yourself as a sovereign being.
An open relationship will expose everything, this is both it’s blessing and it’s curse.
Confronting your inner demons brings you face to face with who you are. It’s terrifying. I’ll admit that. But it’s also liberating and freeing.
No hiding behind your partner, no projecting your shit onto someone else, nope. In open relationships this behaviour isn’t accepted.
It's up to you to tackle your own issues.
Here’s the thing.
Monogamous relationships always start off with good intentions. Until, people take ownership of one another.
Yes, this includes your genitals.
You can’t flirt. You can’t masterbate. You can even look at anyone else!
Put it this way; Open relationships give you genital sovereignty.
Amen, to that.
Re-accessing your sexual energy
When you're single you’re sexual energy is constantly activated. This is a good thing, especially if you want to get jiggy with it. Which lets be honest, most of us do.
Monogamy on the other hand, you lose it pretty quickly. In fact you’re rewarded more by your partner if you suppress it.
Don’t lie ladies. When your partner is nudging you to have round two and you're not into it, this is exactly my point.
The beauty of open relationships is the symbiotic nature of being both single and in a partnership.
This enables you to harness your sexual energy and use it to it’s full capacity.
After all, sexual energy is the most powerful energy we have.
Deeper connections with friends
How do you make deep connections?
You must share some kind of intimacy on an emotional, physical or spiritual level.
Thi is what I really like about open relationships. Most interactions begin as friendships first. From this base level of friendship, deep intimacy can organically unfold.
Making way for any new partner(s) to share a close friendship with you.
This includes metamours. Metamours are your partners, partner. Kind of weird I know, but not in the open relationship community.
It’s also encouraged to be part of the open relationship community. This is a great way to connect with other couples and find out how they navigate the landscape of non-monanogy.
Privacy of oneself
You hear it all the time.
If you want a successful relationship you need to tell your partner everything.
But, do you?
I’m not saying hold back secrets and be dishonest. I’m saying hold a little back and water your own garden first, before you tend to others.
Open relationships teach us to be honest and trusting towards our partners. It also teaches us that a little privacy of oneself is a good thing. A sense of empowerment.
When you get home from a night of wild passion with a lover, you don’t need to go into every little bit of detail. No, you can simply tell your partner in brief, and keep the part where you've been on a ball and chain for yourself.
Improved sex life
It goes without saying, more sex can’t be a bad thing.
Especially when it’s with multiple partners.
Sex is not everything in a relationship obviously, but it’s still a factor.
Having sex with the same person (no matter how good they are) get’s a little boring after 10 years. You’ve got to keep spicing it up in different ways to get the same excitement. Otherwise, sex is just arduous and boring.
In an open relationship on the other hand, not only do you get to spice it up with others, but your sex life with your primary partner becomes wildly exciting once again.
Teenage sex, here we come.
More space for sexual polarity
When you begin a relationship the sexual polarity is at its most extreme.
Think of two magnets, opposite attract.
Over time this polarisation dwindles and in monogamous relationships especially it can be difficult to find ways to ignite the spark once again.
Open relationships however, maintain a healthy sexuality polarity because of theres more space between the two individuals.
When one partner goes out to meet another person space is created. This space is a catalyst for desire. And it's this desire which helps keep the romantic flame alive.
For our survival, our sense of belonging and our wellbeing.
But, they can also be co-dependent, destructive and toxic.
We’re conditioned to believe one person can be our end-all. Our partner, friend, lover, confident. Not to mention husband and/or father too.
This is impossible.
We place a lot of pressure on these kinds of relationship dynamics which is why so many monogamous relationships fail.
Open relationships on the other hand provide a liberating and rewarding alternative to the relationship status quo.
A place to not only explore others, but yourself too.
The benefits of an open relationship are vast, but only for the right person.
Let me know in the comments below if you’re in an open relationship yourself or if you're wanting to explore it as a possibility.
With love and gratitude,