Open Relationships - Good or Bad?
What in the World is an Open Relationship?
One of my friends recently updated his Facebook profile with the status "Now in an open Relationship" and it got me wondering why someone would want to get into a relationship - and then want to be out of it straight away. It led me to searching for a proper Definition of an "Open" relationship.
Wikipedia defines it as a relationship in which the participants are free to have emotional, spiritual and/or physical relationships with other partners, often within mutually agreed limits. If a couple in an open relationship are married, it can be called an an open marriage.
Types of Open Relationships
What, they are actually "types" of open relationships? Wow, that’s interesting.
Some relationships place restrictions on the number of partners the other party can be with, in other words, you can be with any one from your current circle of friends/associates but you cannot go outside that circle.
Other relationships allow both partners to flirt with other people and basically do all else BUT sex. In other words, you can have as much fun with anyone else as long as it doesn’t lead to actual intercourse.
The third type of Open relationship and one that I have found to be not only popular but wide spread among those practising this type of relationship is the one where both partners can have sexual relationships with other partners without taking it further than that. What this means is that you are having a strictly physical relationship with the other party but you are not falling in love with them or taking any other commitment other than the physical intimacy you are currently enjoying.
The most obvious positive about an Open relationship is that technically there’s no cheating. Where there’s no cheating there are no lies. And normally this means there are no nasty surprises and no hurt because everything is in the open.
Secondly, sexually, a monogamous relationship can turn dull with time. Allowing both partners to venture out and sample different “flavours” can sometime bring back that excitement to the primary relationship. Who knows what else one can learn out there about fun between the sheets. This new knowledge can surprisingly spice things up in the bedroom for the couple.
Thirdly, and especially true for married couples, a third party relieves pressure from the primary relationship. Pressures of work, the kids, finances, in-laws etc can cause serious rifts between couples. A third party in the relationship can in a way relieve this pressure, giving both partners some space to cool off from all the rigours of married life.
Are Open relationships widely approved? I know in modern times, like many other taboos of the past, this type of relationship has been accepted but there is very few evidence to suggest it is now widely approved. You still find derogatory names being labelled on those, especially women, who have been with more than one man while in a set relationship. Couples in Open relationships might find themselves being discriminated against or in some cases being censured by society for engaging in such a relationship.
Mainstream religion unequivocally forbids open relationships. Similarly, those engaging in open relationships may find it had to reconcile this behaviour with their religious obligations.
The most obvious negative aspect of open Relationships is the health risk they pose to all involved. Getting sexually involved with multiple partners increases one’s exposure to a host of STDs including HIV/AIDS. Admittedly, this risk can be considerably reduced by practising safer sex. Please note, safer and not safe. Certainly safer than unprotected sex but not 100% safe all the same.
Another pertinent issue with Open relationships is that they have a major psychological burden on all parties. Think about it, as human beings, we all crave intimacy. This is a very special and unique trait of human beings from all other mammals in the animal kingdom. Having said that, does our human nature allow us to share this with multiple people simultaneously? Jealousy inevitably creeps into Open relationships because intimacy simply cannot be shared.
When jealousy starts two things quickly follow – Lies and Betrayal. When you realise you partner is getting jealous, you can no longer be honest about your actions because this will naturally upset your partner so what do you do? Lie. When you then go out and do what your partner dislikes behind their back, it becomes betrayal.
Good or Bad?
Personally, I don’t believe that one should get into a relationship if they are not committed enough to the person to stay loyal to them and them alone. People are entitled to choice – that I admit. However, if you would rather be free to roam around and do as you please with no confines then don’t get into a relationship. Whenever there has been a third party in a relationship, there has always been an unhappy ending to the whole thing and our lives are full of examples of this. World leaders have gone down in shame after succumbing to the temptation of having an extra party in a relationship
As the saying goes “Two’s company, Three’s a crowd” I don’t think Open Relationships work and would be really curious to hear from someone who thinks otherwise.