Open relationships can take on a lot of different forms. Some people only ever enter non-monogamous relationships, while others open their relationship after a certain period if they find that they're struggling with monogamy. Different people have different reasons for wanting to be in an open relationship — and understanding exactly why you're doing it is crucial to it being successful.
A recent AskReddit thread looked at exactly this issue. People in open relationships shared what was appealing about the setup and why they chose it, and the results were fascinating. Some of the people in the thread seem to identify as being both in an open and polyamorous relationship, but it's important to note that open relationships and polyamory are not necessarily the same thing.
While open relationships can involve being romantically and emotionally monogamous, with the freedom to explore sexually, polyamory is a type of open relationship that's typically about having long-term, multiple meaningful relationships with people. According to Poly-Coach, polyamory is often associated with the idea of being "in love" with more than one person, which open relationships aren't always, even if there may be some level of emotional connection. Although Poly-Coach emphasizes that every poly or open relationship will be shaped by the people in that relationship.
But they both involve challenging the idea of monogamy. "Society is changing and with it, the way we view relationships," Angela Jacob Bermudo, spokesperson for the open relationship dating site OpenMinded, tells Bustle. "Society has come to a point where monogamy is no longer the end-all, be-all when it comes to the things we value in a relationship or when measuring a partner’s commitment to the actual relationship."
So why were people interested in having an open relationship? Here's what Reddit users had to say, because for a lot of them it's all about honesty.
1. It's About The Sex
For some people, it's just about the sex. And people have the right to have a healthy, happy sex life — so good for them for going and finding what makes them happy.
2. It's About Being Secure
Some people actually feel far more grounded in an open relationship, because they know that they won't struggle to meet the expectations set within it.
3. It's About Trust And Communication
If you're going to have a healthy open relationship, your communication skills better be on point — but there's something really satisfying about being open about everything.
4. It's About Needs
Even though there are a lot of different reasons this Reddit user gives, I think one of the most telling is just being upfront about the fact that your partner can't always meet your needs. Putting that out there and just working with it can mean a very authentic connection.
5. It's About Freedom
You might learn that you have a whole new dimension to your emotional life, one that you didn't even realize that you were capable of.
6. It's About Never Regretting Anything
Not ever having that "if only" moment can be a really motivating factor for a lot of people. There's no FOMO, because you're having every opportunity open to you — even within the relationship.
7. It's About What It's Always About
All those things you like about dating? Some people just want more of that. The more people, the more connection, the better.
8. It's About Honesty
The idea of honesty came up for a lot of people. It's totally natural to be attracted to someone other than your partner, and an open relationship is just an acknowledgement and extension of that. It's about living a truly honest relationship.
9. It's About Experiences
If you met your partner before you had time to experiment, you may feel like you were missing out on vital experiences. Opening up your relationship gives you the opportunity to reclaim those moments.
10. It's About Relationships
For this Redditor, thinking about the way we approach friendships is no different for how we can approach romantic relationships.
11. It's About Understanding Yourself
For some people, getting into an open relationship or polyamorous one takes time. The more you learn about yourself, the more you understand what fits best for you.
12. It's About Variety
Sometimes, you just need a change. If you're someone who gets bored sexually, open relationships can mean that you get constant stimulation.
13. It's About How You're Built
I think the "threat" idea is really important. Some people view other people or other relationships as threats, while other just look at them as more layers to their experiences — and that's probably the biggest difference between open and monogamous ones.
Being in an open relationship isn't for everyone, but there are clearly lots of different things that can draw people toward monogamy. Sexual variety, honesty, communication — open relationships can have so much to offer.