When someone says they’re going to open up their relationship, most people think, “Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts.” That’s because the common narrative about open relationships in our monogamy-focused society is that they don’t work. We’re told that the only way to truly love someone is by forsaking all others. We’re 100 percent sold the narrative that anyone who desires anything outside of their romantic partner — sex, friendship, even companionship — is selfish and will soon be single. But the big thing that those lessons are missing is the fact that there are a lot of open relationships that work really well — we just don’t hear about them.
Because we’re so focused on monogamy, a lot of people who are in open relationships choose to be “socially monogamous.” That means that they maintain the public image of monogamy even if they’re not sticking solely to the marriage bed. As a result, there are a large number of closeted non-monogamous people who credit opening up their partnerships with saving their relationships, not ruining them. And, of course, there are also more and more folks who choose to live openly about the fact that they’re not monogamously committed.
In order to combat the monogamy-only narrative, I reached out to some of those people to see what ways being in an open relationship has strengthened their relationship or relationships. Their responses were thoughtful, insightful, and sometimes surprising and I think we all — monogamous or not — could learn a thing or two from them.
1. Katie, 26
Communication between me and my partners is better now that I'm in non-mono relationships than it ever was when I was in mono ones.
2. Savannah 22
I feel being in an open relationship allows more open flow of feelings. Feelings involve attraction to others and ourselves. The many different feelings of love are broken down and can be more clearly defined, as can aspects of our relationship and what makes us happy together. Since we have to be open about how we feel about other people, i feel that our communication of all feelings that otherwise might cause jealousy or unrest in the typical monogamous relationship is greater and healthier.
3. Lyla, 24
Our communication is amazing. As someone who has been in an abusive relationship before, been cheated on, and has anxiety, it was actually a really good way to overcome my fears that bad past relationships have left me with. Granted, open relationships are sometimes wrongly used as a way to "fix" problems in a relationship, or sometimes two people aren't on the same page; but I've been lucky enough to find someone who is willing to put in the time and effort that good relationships (ALL relationships) need. Also, it's fun to date sans pressure in a day and age where the "dating culture" is full of nothing but, and being able to talk to your partner about some weird date you went on or funny Tinder message you got is so fun.
4. Marc-Antoine, 28
It doesn't make my relationships stronger or weaker.
5. Elaine, 19
I appreciate my partners for who they are, and am seldom distracted by who they could be. Before I started practicing polyamory, I was stressed out by the “relationship escalator” and possibility choosing the “wrong” option for a relationship when I had chemistry with multiple people, and knowing that engaging in a fling prevented me from a serious relationship.
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