Reblog: The Art of an Open Relationship

The Art of an Open Relationship

Shared by Heather M. You can visit the original post here.

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘open relationship’ or ‘open marriage’. A mutual agreement between partners that enables each party to pursue sexual encounters outside of their relationship. A trend that possibly emerged during the swinging 60s – think tossing keys into a giant bowl to see who you end up with – but most likely transcended the free love era…except no one was talking about it.

A while ago, I published an article in the Huffington Post exploring the notion of monogamy and whether or not it was natural behaviour for humans. This sparked a flurry of heated comments and discussion and landed me on a HuffPost Live segment with a panel of “experts”. I most certainly am not an expert, but I find the discussion fascinating.

I recently met a woman who has been married less than a year, but has been with her partner for much longer. They have a loving and supportive relationship and, from the outside, seem really happy. I don’t doubt that they are. They also have an open marriage and bear no issue if one or the other wants to get intimate with someone else. With two caveats – they’re open and honest with each another and they never engage in extra-marital affairs in their own home. And it works. In the four plus years they’ve been together, she has had two other partners and he has had one. She did note, however, that once children enter the picture the open nature of their marriage may change, but that’s yet to be determined.

A close friend of mine has been in an open relationship with his partner for close to 10 years, and they use similar guiding principles where external relations are concerned. I’ve always marvelled at their ability to maintain a happy union knowing full well when one or the other is in bed with someone else. I remember one night we were having drinks as I watched my friend’s partner flirt with another man and – after an overindulgent amount of champagne – I shed my liberal views and told my friend that I thought it was weird and upsetting. His response was that he could be miserable and jealous, or choose to evolve and be open to it.

A greater concern, I imagine, would be the emotional risk. What if your partner prefers to have sex with someone else? What if the sex turns into something more? Could you share your lover sexually and romantically? If so, what’s the point in being in a relationship at all? I say this, not out of judgment, but purely out of curiosity.

Monogamy was something I struggled with in my 20s. Despite almost always being in a relationship, I rarely remained loyal. I would push the limits by engaging in public displays of affection with other men for the thrill of getting caught, or perhaps because I shouldn’t have been in those relationships in the first place. Maybe a bit of both. But I’m quite certain an open relationship would not have remedied my behaviour. Chalk it up to being young and reckless, I suppose.

Now, happily married, I can’t imagine venturing outside of my relationship. Call me traditional, call me a romantic schmuck, but for my husband and I, an open relationship is not something we wish to pursue. Never say never, but definitely not now (and it’s been 7 years).

While these couples may seem mythical among those of us who practice monogamy with our partners, they’re more common than you think. Could the next generation be more open to sidebar sexual relationships, or is this comparable to a recycled trend like high-wasted jeans and flower headbands? Would you be open to sharing your lover with someone else?

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