Something that has gotten more common over the last decade and that doesn’t get talked about in professional circles very much is the arrangement of an open relationship. Many relationship professionals stick by monogamy 100% of the time, renouncing open relationships as a sign of an unhealthy couple. However, open relationships aren’t one size fits all and they don’t all come from the same cause. Let’s take a deeper look at why one might be in an open relationship and what good and bad can come of it.
Why Not Monogamy?
The first question you might be wondering is why one would want something that isn’t monogamous. Monogamy has been the “default” for as long as we can remember. The question really becomes, “Why is monogamy the default?”
For most people, monogamy is more comfortable. That’s because it’s hard enough to balance a relationship between two people who are committed to each other alone. Throwing in additional variables can make a relationship endlessly more complicated.
However, for some people, there are reasons beyond simplicity and ease that influence the structure of their relationship:
- Sometimes two people are romantically very happy with each other but are completely incompatible sexually. One partner may also have a much higher sex drive than their partner. In these cases, one or both partners might seek sex outside of the relationship.
- Some couples enjoy introducing more parties into their sex life as a couple, rather than individually.
- Sometimes, a couple just doesn’t find being exclusive to be a huge deal. For these couples, it’s not a big deal if one or both partners is getting things typically associated with a relationship from other people.
- And, last but not least, some people are polyamorous and are interested in romance with more than one person.
Is Being Open Right for Me?
Whether being in an open relationship is right for you or not depends on many factors. Ask yourself:
- Does the idea horrify me?
- Would my partner having sex or being romantic with another person make me feel unimportant? (This is supposing your partner is still giving you enough attention for personal fulfillment.)
- Does having more than one partner seem unnecessary to me?
- Does it make me feel uncomfortable to think my partner is not happy with just me?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, being in an open relationship might not be right for you.
Benefits to an Open Relationship
There can actually be many positives to an open relationship.
- Both partners may find they’re more balanced with additional sexual or romantic input.
- Partners may find that they’re more sexually satisfied.
- A couple might find they have an easier time respecting each other as individuals rather than belonging to each other.
- Partners may be less likely to grow interdependent with each other.
Pitfalls of an Open Relationship
The most important thing to an open or poly relationship is that both partners are comfortable with the arrangement. There must be firm rules and boundaries put in place. What leads to a toxic open relationship is when partners are doing whatever they want without regard to the other partner’s feelings. A healthy, open relationship involves both trust and respect between both partners as well as a willingness to stick to boundaries and rules.
If you want to discuss an open relationship with a professional, you’ve come to the right place. Give us a call at Toronto Sex Therapy and book your appointment now. We’re even offering phone appointments currently to promote social distancing.