The Big Deal About Open Relationships

Tue, 01/24/2012 - 00:33 -- amber

In a society where emotions reign and sexual urges are considered sinful, open relationships have put a spin on the inquiries about cheating in a relationship. An open relationship is generally defined when two people agree that they want to be together for their psychological and physical needs, but they want to have the option of seeing other people for their sexual needs.

Some open relationships are the above definitions’ opposite; incorporating relationship commitment to several relationships and falling in love with multiple partners. The practice of polyamory is associated with this definition because there is one main lover among a multitude of other lovers, all aware of the polyamorous relationship and accepting of the circumstances.

Being in an open relationship can be beneficial and it eliminates the word “cheating” from a couple’s vocabulary. Although there may be rules and boundaries, the relationship is first built on a solid foundation of trust. There are those who will use the idea of an open relationship to test their partner’s commitment, but this is a bad idea that leaves both parties sorely disappointed in the end.

People in an open relationship or a polyamorous partnership are encouraged to tell their prospective lovers about their primary partner, to avoid any misunderstandings. The most common open relationships in the modern world are ones where sexual aspects of the partnership aren’t exclusive, whereas love is designated for the primary partner.

The big question is, “Why is an open relationship not considered cheating?” The answer is: because both people in the relationship are aware of the others intentions and actions. Cheating in a relationship usually requires distrust and manipulation. To cheat on someone, you have to be in a deceptive mood and you’re probably too possessive to allow your primary partner to see other people. Cheating in relationships is associated with jealousy, feelings of abandonment, and heartbreaking betrayal. Open relationships or polyamorous partnerships aren’t considered cheating because both partners are accepting and understanding of the situation.

Men and women who seek polyamorous partnerships or open relationships have probably always had the desire to love and be loved by multiple people. They’re capable of carrying on various relationships that can be fulfilling and satisfying for all partners involved. However, they have to be selective about picking partners because there is such a stigma attached to ‘cheating’ in a relationship or carrying on a partnership that isn’t considered monogamous.

One such example of an extreme polyamorous atmosphere would be a commune; where people worship their bodies and the bodies of others through love and random sex. There are rarely jealousy issues and people enjoy the sexual company of others simply because it feels good to have sex, and experience that with different people. To those in a communal environment, love is just as sacred to them as to anyone else but they feel capable of sharing their bodies and their love with multiple partners. It’s not a “hippie sex orgy” by any means, but it does extend pass the boundaries of what would be considered a typical open relationship or polyamorous partnership. Like all relationships, sustaining an open relationship requires constant communication between the primary partners and their lovers. It’s important to not leave anyone out of the loop when relationship matters arise. Open relationships and polyamorous partnerships aren’t without their consequences, and it is natural for newcomers to feel a tinge of jealousy at first.

The practice of open relationships is typically utilized by those in college, or people engaged in long-distance relationships. The first few times, especially in college, partners are merely testing the waters to avoid being called a “cheater.” Real polyamorous partnerships and open relationships require a more adult outlook.

amber's picture
Amber Hoffman

I am writer and editor at Bedroom Stories online magazine, writing about sexual relationships and better understanding our lives. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]