What is an Open Relationship

2 years ago / by Team SEEMA
Open Relationships
Image credits: Scott Broome via Unsplash

Open Relationships

Open relationships are essentially relationships in which both partners make a conscious decision not to be monogamous. In these relationships, both partners are allowed to pursue sexual relationships and even emotional bonds with other people. If you’re curious about these types of relationships and want to know if this romantic arrangement is right for you, here is someone important information you need to know.

What Are Open Relationships?

Open relationships are not the same as swinging, in which both partners have sexual with someone else at a party and the relationships are only sexual. An open relationship is also not synonymous with polyamory, in which partners can have several committed relationships at the same time.

Open relationships are often classified as “middle ground” for couples who want to explore unconventional connections with others but don’t want to get into polyamory or swinging.

What Is An Open Relationship?

There is still a negative connotation connected to being non-monogamous. Even though some people have extramarital affairs or have sex with people outside of their relationship, and some people accept this behavior from their partners, they may still be unwilling to admit that they are in an open relationship. Research gives us a more accurate idea of how many people are actually in open relationships.

A survey revealed the 31% of women and 38% of men would actually prefer open relationships. The research also indicated that younger people prefer this type of relationship more than older individuals.

Are Open Relationships Right for You?

Some people know for the time they are teenagers or young adults that they don’t want to be monogamous even though societal expectations indicate that everyone should get into a monogamous relationship that eventually leads to marriage. Others try unconventional relationships due to life circumstances such as their partner suggesting the idea or having an attraction to someone who is already in a relationship.

In some situations, couples who have been together for years may try a non-monogamous relationship to reignite the passion between the two of them. In other cases, one or both partners may have a crush on someone outside of the relationship or one partner starts to have an affair. To resolve feelings of guilty, depression, or betrayal, some couples may agree to an unconventional relationship.

However, this not always the best way to change the dynamics of your relationship especially if you or your partner have been unfaithful. It’s best to solve the issues that led to the affair instead of covering these problems up by “allowing” your partner to sleep with other people when he/she has already done so. Your resolution can sometimes lead to a breakup or divorce.

Sometimes, it is possible for couples to have successful open relationships. Ask yourself a few questions to see if a non-traditional relationship is right for you and your partner:

-Are you and your mate both sincerely interested in non-monogamy?
-Do you and your mate have differing sexual orientations or needs?
-Are you considering open relationships because you trust your partner or because they have already cheated on you?
-Do you and your partner feel comfortable openly communicating with one another?

Open Relationship rules

You can experience non-traditional relationships whether you’re in a committed relationship, casual relationship, or married. Both you and your partner must consent to casually dating outside of your relationship, which may or may not lead to sex or emotional attachments with other people.

The way you approach the topic of unconventional relationships should depend on the level of commitment you have to one another and the stage of your relationship. If you’re currently in a casual relationship the discussion may be easier. However, if you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage, open relationships can be more complicated. You may need to discuss the fact that when the both of you entered into a relationship, you both agreed to be monogamous. Be honest with yourself and/or partner about whether that expectation has changed.

Think about your reasons for wanting a non-monogamous relationship at this stage in your life. Are you trying to justify cheating on your partner? Are you interested in someone else but don’t want to lose your primary relationship? Or have you always been interested in non-traditional relationships but never pursued them because of societal pressure to remain committed to one person at a time? You should also be ready to answer any questions your partner may have and to deal with their feelings of hurt, shock, or anger when you bring up the subject of having a “different” type of relationship.

Pros and Cons

When you pursue non-monogamous relationships with mutual respect and the consent of all involved parties, they can be beneficial. One of the main benefits for many people is sexual satisfaction. We all desire novelty when it comes to our sexual experiences at some point in our lives and unconventional relationships can satisfy this aspect of a person’s sexual experience. Open relationships allow both partners to be honest about their sexual needs and wants and gives them the freedom to pursue these needs with whomever they choose while making their main partner aware of their sexual activity.

Non-monogamous relationships also make it easier to be honest with a main partner about crushes or sexual desires. Neither party has to hide their feelings if they feel attracted to someone else and this could create a stronger bond in the future.

While there are some benefits to open relationships, this type of arrangement has some pitfalls as well. First of all, you or your partner could become extremely jealous once an additional person is introduced into your relationship. If you’ve been raised in an environment where monogamy is the expectation, you may feel angry and envious if you learn that your partner is attracted to someone else and developing a bond with them. Jealousy could indicate that you desire mutual commitment from your partner even if you previously agreed to non-monogamy but could also be a sign that you want you and your partner to be “everything” to each other.

If you’re having these issues but still think you want to try a non-monogamous relationship, it’s a good idea to speak with a couples counselor who understands the dynamics of non-conventional relationships. A counselor can help you work through your feelings and decide if the relationship is right for you.


What does an open relationship mean?

An open relationship means that you have one main person that you’re in a relationship with but you and your partner are permitted to have additional relationships or sexual experiences with other people.

What’s the point of an open relationship?

Open relationships may be suitable for people who have a higher sex drive than their partners or for those who want to have meaningful emotional relationships with more than one person. This arrangement may also work for people who are casually dating before they decide if they want to be in a monogamous relationship.

What are the rules of an open relationship?

The rules of open relationships vary depending on the people who are in the relationship. Some couples may decide that it is acceptable for their partners to go on dates with other people without having sex with their dates while others may allow their partners to have sexual relationships with whomever they choose as long as their partner agrees not to emotionally invest in these additional “relationships.”

Are open relationships bad?

Non-monogamous relationships are not necessarily bad especially if a couple agrees to try an open relationship for their own personal reasons. This arrangement doesn’t work for everyone, so it’s important to be honest about your feelings if you know that this type of relationship will cause you to experience feelings of resentment or jealousy.

What’s the point of an open relationship?

Unconventional relationships often help people to satisfy their sexual desires or preferences without having to give up the person they are in a committed relationship with. Some people also agree to be in open relationships if they are dating someone casually and want to date more than one person to find out who they are most compatible with.