For all the time we spend creating memes about side people and playlists about cheating jerks, you'd think monogamy was impossible. It's not, but it can feel like a pointless relationship goal. But feeling like monogamy is pointless is actually a sign that you might thrive in an open relationship. Wait, back the truck up, right? You're saying I might enjoy getting cheated on? Well, not exactly. Because it's not technically cheating if it doesn't break the rules of your open relationship. For serious.
I'm not spouting crazy talk. There are scores of people out there who think monogamy is outdated, or unrealistic. People who love hard and make lasting commitments, but who also never deny themselves first kisses, new love, or hot sex. I saw open relationships first hand when I worked as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Responsible Sexuality Educator, and they blew my mind. I had always been trained to view relationships through the lens of two committed people, so I was skeptical that open relationships could work, but experience proved me very wrong.
Sure, some of them went very, very wrong, but some of them thrived and still thrive to this day. They're not for everyone, but if the following apply to you, it might be something to think about.
1. You're Super Independent & Super Busy
You do you, and you do it all the time, and you have no desire to change that. So maybe you don't feel like you have the time or energy to meet all of someone's physical and emotional needs. You might do better in a situation where you have one or more loving partners who meet your needs, then leave you alone. Who can turn to you a lot of the time when they're in crisis, but who can also lean on other partners when you just don't have time. Who can see other people when you're busy. Who don't care if you hook up with someone at a conference. Maybe they live with you, or maybe they'd rather live alone. Maybe you're even married. If you're not interested in making relationships thee center of your life, you might do well in an open situation.
2. You Really Love Love
This is kind of the opposite of the previous point. Some people in open relationships love and live for those connections. They may have a long-term partner and have permission to see others on the side, or they may have multiple serious, long-term partners. If you get bored in relationships, and long for a never-ending stream of first kisses, butterflies, and falling in love, open relationships mean you can have them whenever you want.
3. You Think Love Is Infinite
There's a common school of thought in open relationships that, in a nutshell, describes love as something infinite. It means that, much like you can love multiple children, you can love multiple romantic partners without loving anyone less. You never run out of love. If you've ever experienced having feeling for someone else while you were in a relationship with someone you still very much card about, you experienced a taste of this. Your love for the other person doesn't have to make your love for the first person any different.
4. You're Not A Jealous Person
If you've never really cared if your partners flirted with other people or hung out with exes, you're probably not a jealous person. This mindset is essential to open relationships, because you'll be sharing your partner with other people. Of course, you'll get to be with other people, too, so it goes both ways. Jealousy will rear it's ugly head for time-to-time, because that's just how the ever-insecure human heart works, but for the most part, you're able to shake it off.
5. You Can Separate Sex From Emotion
A lot of people in open relationships have a spouse or long-term partner that they build a life with, but are allowed to have sex with others. These people are usually really good at separating sex from love. They see it as just a physical act, and don't mind, so long as their partners come home to them and continue to build their lives together. You can try to make rules, like "just sex, no love" but you can't always make rules about who you love. But you continue to chose your primary partner, because a big part of love is choice.
6. The Happiness Of Others Makes You Super Happy
When you think about your partner having a great time with someone else, are you happy for their happiness, or are you sad and jealous? The open relationship community likes to make it a habit to focus on the beauty of their partners' happiness. With enough practice, you can be excited when your partner meets someone new, because you know how fun those times are in a new relationship.And you can expect that same happiness and support from your partner. It's a concept called empersion, and it's kind of the "it" word in the open community. It's basically the opposite of jealousy.
7. You're A Good Time Manager
If you're in a long-term relationship and you just both occasionally have sex with other people, time management isn't so much of an issue. But if you date other people and foster relationships with them, there will come a time when you feel like there's not enough of you to go around. It might sound silly, but if you're not a good, fair, time manger, you'll crash and burn. You have to be able to do your fair share in all of your relationships, whatever that means to your particular situation. It can be tough.
8. You're Have Your Communications Skills On Lock
You will never do more communicating that when you're in an open relationship. And you have to not only be willing to communicate, but you have to be good at it. You have to be able to assert yourself, express your feelings, hear things that you maybe didn't want to hear, and work through complicated emotions. You might need (or have a partner who needs) constant reassurance that you love them. You have to check in to make sure all parties are still down for your situation. It's like a communication party on communication island, and sometimes it's enough to give you a headache.
9. You Have A Thick Skin
People may judge you like crazy when they find out you're in an open relationship. They might gossip. They might try to get you to church. They might think you're just slutty and immoral. You have to be willing to educate them or be capable of ignoring them. Coming out as a person in an open relationship can change relationships with family and friends, and even make employers leery of your trustworthiness. It's bananas, but unfortunately, it's the culture we live in. You have to be able to deal.
10. You Like Homework
What? Homework? OK, maybe I should have said "you have good organizational skills." The brief moment when I was in an open relationship, I had a grand old time making spreadsheets, doing research, creating our rules and guidelines, quoting the experts, and making charts and calendars. I'm a nerd like that. You can probably get by with your phone's calendar app and maybe a Google search.
11. You're Not Afraid Of Change
If you thrive on change, if you love new adventures, if you're at your best under pressure, or if you're just like "bring it on life" in general, you might welcome an open relationship. There's a ton of change. A ton of learning and adapting. A ton of weirdness (have you ever consoled your partner because their other partner broke their heart? It's weird.). It's not always easy, but it's pretty often exciting.
You get to make all the rules (together), and you get the best of both worlds. If everyone involved is OK with that, it's a beautiful (and fun) thing.
Images: Pexels (13)