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We have been raised to believe a relationship is solely between one man and one woman. These two are expected to be faithful to each other no matter what. But in recent times, discussions about exclusivity in relationships are coming up. What if these two individuals choose to not be exclusive? What if they want to give each other the opportunity to ‘see’ other people and engage those others in a relationship? What if they choose to be in an open relationship?
An open relationship in simple terms is described as where an established couple has mutually agreed to share a non-monogamous lifestyle. This includes either or both parties having other sexual and/or romantic partners. This type of relationship is carried out with the consent and knowledge of all parties involved.
Key points to take home from this is that the agreement is mutual and consent is provided from both parties. One may ask, how can you agree to let your partner be involved with someone else? The agreement stems from the fact that they opted out of exclusivity probably because monogamy is constricting to them. The reasons behind the choices are varied, one known fact is that every couple has its sets rules to the arrangement. Call it their very own Ts and Cs.
Open relationships don’t (usually) mean “open to anyone.” According to Matt Lundquist, a licensed clinical social worker and relationship therapist in New York, “this is an area where open couples can get into trouble.” Before you enter into an open relationship, it’s important to agree on who is fair game to get intimate with; if your terms of the open relationship permit intercourse. Part of the reason for setting some rules is just practical, for instance using protection to reduce your risk of getting, or sharing, an STI.
Once you’ve established boundaries, experts recommend taking the time to dig into the nitty gritty like how much time you’ll each spend on your open-relationship activities.
The one golden rule you should follow above all others- like all issues that come up in your relationship, be honest. If one of your open relationship rules is no longer working, revisit it and make some changes.
Some might say the rules and conditions might seem like a job or form of employment and not an actual relationship. But if the partners are up for it, the rules help navigate the situations without anyone getting hurt. Both physically and emotionally.
Open relationships may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but for those who engage in the practice, they have nothing but praise for it.
It is prudent to note that an open relationship can only work is both individuals agree to it. If you want to bring up the suggestion to your partner, don’t be offended if they turn you done, remember, it’s not for everyone.