You might have heard about it – open relationships, polyamoury, non-monogamy. It’s all over the place. But WTF are they, really?
Well, basically, it’s a consensual way of having non-exclusive relationships. In other words, people who are involved agree to specific arrangements. It’s not a free licence to “cheat”, and it’s not a lack of commitment. It’s actually much more commitment – to communicate, to deliberately talk about how everyone who’s in the relationship wants it to be.
Some arrangements say that there’s a primary couple, with other people on the side. Others don’t rank the relationships at all. People agree on specific limits, like, “you can date other girls but not guys”, or like, “casual sex is ok when you’re away on vacation”. The word that keeps repeating is agreement. You can’t just decide to have an open relationship unless everyone’s on the same page (that’s just old-school cheating).
People who find open relationships most rewarding tend to have certain skills and values:
- They value self-reflection and honesty
- They feel that the traditional monogamy model is limiting, or not for them
- They have excellent communication and listening skills
- They feel very secure in themselves