Open relationships: Examining the good, the bad and the ugly

 Open relationships: Examining the good, the bad and the ugly

By Ezinwanne Onwuka

It’s hard to deny that unconventional relationships are becoming more and more common nowadays. A relationship is like a great pair of vintage jeans: If it doesn’t fit, it won’t make you happy. Also like an amazing denim, there are lots of different types of relationships. Love is definitely not a one-size-fits-all.

One type of relationship getting a lot of buzz lately is an open one. Many people are coming to the realization that monogamy is not for them, and are instead turning to open relationships. But what does that really mean?

Imagine a relationship where it is okay for you to carry on that affair with your neighbour whom you have long admired. Now imagine giving your partner the same consent to indulge in their sexual ‘extra-curriculars.’

From the mental picture painted above, let’s define an open relationship as a non-monogamous relationships in which both parties aren’t exclusively dating each other. That is to say, one or both partners are allowed to have other sexual and/or romantic partners.

Basically, if you are in an open relationship, you and your partner (the primary relationship) agree to be open to the possibility of intimacy with other people. This could mean inviting others into the relationship or looking outside the relationship for sexual gratification with one or more people.

Following this, married couples, committed couples, and casual couples alike can be in open relationships that involve consent to: Casually date people outside their marriage or relationship, pursue romantic relationships outside their marriage or relationship, and/or have a physical relationship outside of their marriage or relationship.

What people find most exciting about open relationships is freedom, or what you may prefer to call, sexual liberty, which most monogamous relationships do not offer. With an open relationship, you can explore sexual relationships with as many partners as you wish. Most people opt in for an open relationship because they find monogamy to push ideas on them, ideas that don’t fit in with their relationship goals – freedom.

Apart from sexual liberty, other reasons why people enter an open relationship include, but not limited to, varying sex drive between primary partners, and for some, the thrill of being with someone different. The ability to set sex aside from love and emotions, can be a powerful tool used to usher in physical bonds with others outside of the relationship.

Those who wish to dive into the open relationship pool must be emotionally sound, and excel at communicating their feelings, to ensure that their relationship does not suffer the ultimate sacrifice of an untimely break-up or divorce.

Granted, many of us are yet to master the art of holding down one partner. So, if you find the physical temptation of sex with others hard to deny, then you should consider talking to your partner about opening the relationship. You never know what they may be feeling, and you may find that he or she is completely in agreement with you.

Word of caution: An open relationship is for people who can handle the maturity of maintaining intimate bonds with multiple people. If you are extremely jealous and/or clingy, please avoid this type of relationship!

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