Let me guess: You’re here because you’ve come across the idea of open relationships and you need to know if it’s for you.
OR your partner just asked you if you’d be interested in one.
It could also be that it’s been in the back of your head for the longest time and you just need more information.
And well, the fourth reason could just be that you’re bored, but I’ll take it anyway! The more you know, right?
So gather round, folks, as we talk about open relationships and the 10 reasons why it’ll be good for you:
1) You can consensually experience love outside of monogamy.
A lot of us are taught that so many things and considerations only exist within a binary. Choices usually are this or that only.
Monogamy is one of them. This almost fairytale love story of finding “The One” and anything outside of that is wrong, immoral, or unconventional.
But is it really?
Well, it’s not a straightforward Yes or No.
Yes, love can successfully and consensually exist outside of monogamy. And no, cheating does not count.
What separates consensual non-monogamy from cheating are the boundaries being set or being crossed. Cheating breaks the boundaries of monogamy.
Non-monogamy usually doesn’t. Sounds vague? It’s because, at the core of it, non-monogamy is complex and case-to-case.
Boundaries will be different for each couple (or each set of couples), individual to individual, and relationship to relationship.
Communication is big for non-monogamy.
Okay, so where does open relationship come in? Well, it’s a type of consensual or ethical non-monogamy.
But wait, what even is an open relationship?
An open relationship is a type of ethical non-monogamy wherein couples allow more people into their relationship, it’s usually sexual and casual in nature rather than committed and romantic.
“Is it the same as polyamory?” Semantically, no, polyamory is having two or more committed relationships at the same time. It is not always sexual either.
The two terms are fluidly linked depending on where you look, though.
While we’re at it, polygamy is marriage between more than two people.
Different non-monogamy relationships have their own different sets of rules but what is present in all of these is this: Consent.
2) You get to satisfy needs and desires despite sexual incompatibility with your primary partner.
There are many reasons for sexual incompatibility, from differences in libido and sexual preferences to geographical limitations and everything else in between.
However, let me be clear: I am not saying that consensual non-monogamy is the first response to sexual incompatibility between monogamous couples. Not at all.
In fact, in this article by marriage.com, it’s not on the list at all, but it could be a consideration when all else fails.
3) Sexual satisfaction for those who have never felt satisfied with 1 partner.
Related to the previous point, but this is more of a long-term, you-know-this-about-yourself kind of situation:
You are not (or never were) sexually satisfied by 1 partner
It’s not just this one relationship you’re in, this has been an ongoing trend in your relationships thus far.
Again, there are still steps you can opt for before jumping into consensual non-monogamy, like counseling and exploring intimacy between you and your primary partner.
It’s important that I repeat this as it’s easy to take this point out of context.
4) You get to explore intimacy and sex while also being in a committed relationship.
This is a judgment-free zone, folks.
You have your kinks, I have mine, and the other people reading this do, too. And maybe you wish to explore sexually while also being in a committed relationship.
Maybe your partner does, too.
Perhaps the sexual incompatibility of the primary couple is preventing the exploration or maybe it’s even part of the spice. Different strokes for different folks and all that (pun completely intended.)
A note on intentions
If you’re only interested in an open relationship to save a failing one, let me be the first to deter you from going into it.
More than once, I have had friends tell me how they regretted opening their relationship just because they wanted to save it.
But if you think about it, does it make sense to add more people to an already sinking ship? Does it make sense to add another person to an already stressful situation?
The answer is no. (Hopefully, your answer is also no.)
Is it getting complicated and too real? I get it, but such is the nature of love.
We go through life thinking love will follow this “The Right One” script we set out for ourselves but here you are searching for answers about open relationships.
Which, let’s be honest, is overwhelming as it is even without the “saving a relationship” part.
So let me tell you another way you can go about this.
Rudá Iandê is a world-renowned shaman who teaches people that love and intimacy are not what we were culturally conditioned to believe.
We’re limited in our view of love—which is probably a hit to the ego, but I digress. In this free video, Rudá explains the unhealthy way we view love.
How we chase whom we shouldn’t. How we self-sabotage our chances for great, great love by imposing our limited—and frankly toxic—beliefs.
How we try to change ourselves to fit into someone’s cookie-cutter version of us and vice versa, like thinking that an open relationship will be the band-aid solution to its rapid failure.
How we minimize our need to be loved the way we want to in order to be wanted.
So, if you want a fresh perspective on love, watch the video to hear from Rudá himself.
Honestly, sometimes you just need to hear the truth from someone who doesn’t know you and won’t judge. I personally got some face-slapping truths that I wasn’t prepared for.
5) You get to explore who you are.
Did you watch the video? Near the end of it, Rudá said “The lack of self-confidence is the most toxic element in a relationship.”
And isn’t that just so loud?
Love starts with ourselves. And an open relationship is a chance to explore, it is a chance to explore love in other forms.
That, however, demands resolve. Being sure demands honesty from all parties, but first and foremost, with yourself.
An open relationship can give you the chance to explore who you are. Your limits, the depths of your love, the different ways you can love, etc.
You might not know where the ultimate destination will be, but that is the nature of exploration. The learning is in the journey.
6) You get to explore the unconventional.
Speaking of exploring, an open relationship is certainly not conventional, right? Although it has been talked about more in mainstream media.
The point is, being in one, you get the chance to disprove the binary. You get to prove the many shades of love.
You get to prove that love is not only what we were taught to believe in. That love is not as straightforward as we were first led to believe.
7) You get to work on or improve your communication skills in relationships.
I cannot stress this enough: COMMUNICATION IS KEY.
It is imperative that you communicate well if you wish to go into consensual non-monogamy. Even setting boundaries alone will require a lot of honest conversations with yourself and with your partner.
You need to be able to communicate your needs. You need to be honest in your sexual encounters as well as you will be involving other people in your primary relationship. (Be sexually responsible, please!)
You need to be able to communicate well if your boundaries are being crossed.
A consensual non-monogamous relationship is not a set-and-forget type of deal. There is constant communication, tweaking, learning, and growing included.
And with the amount of communicating you’re about to do, it’s impossible not to get better at it.
A word to the wise
Since we’re talking about communication… let’s also quickly talk about how consent needs to ALWAYS be present in ethical non-monogamy.
Quick side note: Consent should be present in every relationship. It’s the bare minimum, you guys. Anyway, let’s move on.
An open relationship will not successfully work well if only 1 party is consenting.
Consent should be given at all turns. Communicate always and communicate well!
Thus, your partner should also be interested in being in a non-monogamous relationship, and with what we’re talking about, specifically an open relationship.
They should be willing to thoroughly talk over and set boundaries both as an individual and as a couple.
To note, there is such a thing as a hybrid relationship, or a mono/poly or poly/mono, where only 1 person within the primary relationship has a different partner. Still, all parties involved should be consenting.
Lastly, consent from coercion is not consent. Consent under duress is also not consent.
8) You get to fundamentally change the way you see love.
Beyond the need to seek and experience the unconventional, there should be a readiness in you to accept the changes.
We can go on and on about this checklist but if you aren’t even ready to fundamentally change the way you see love and relationships, you might find yourself resisting and struggling.
If you aren’t honest, if you’re not willing to communicate, if you’re not aware of the fact that your current relationship WILL change no matter the outcome.
Whether the open relationship fails or succeeds, and whether you get to experience everything on this list, it still will fundamentally change your opinions about love as you know it—for better or worse.
You might never go back to monogamy ever again or you might be sticking to it forevermore.
Regardless, you should be open and ready for changes.
9) You get to have fun.
I briefly mentioned New Relationship Energy above, how you get to form new connections and experience all that NRE entails.
The giddiness, the butterflies, the unraveling. The newness of it all.
You get to have fun, or you get to make it fun.
A note on having fun in open relationships
Yes, you can have fun in an open relationship, but only potentially as there’s still a chance it’s not the right lifestyle for you.
And that is okay.
This is by no means my attempt at raining on your parade, but there is merit in being honest and aware.
10) You get to explore the depths of your relationship.
It isn’t just the general definition of love that you’re going to explore, it’s also the depth of your relationship.
What can you handle? What can you weather together? How can you grow?
How can love change you? How can you change love?
Will you stand by each other? Will you be made stronger by the unconventional?
You get to find the answers to this.