An open relationship versus rampant infidelity
This is a figure that somewhat surprised me. While the majority of couples continue to swear fidelity to each other, more or less officially, it seems that infidelity is still present and increasingly so. A study in 2019 showed that female infidelity has increased more than 20% in 30 years. 1 in 3 women admits to having cheated on their partner, compared to 1 in 2 men.
It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Think of all the pain, guilt, jealousy, and lies. The list goes on and on. All because we were taught that that’s what a relationship is. All because the concept of monogamy doesn’t allow for infidelity 🤯. So we involuntarily lock ourselves in a model that doesn’t suit us, since so many of us cheat on each other.
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Open relationship versus polyamory
To sum up, polyamory involves very strong feelings between several people we live with. It’s therefore a couple, but a couple open to various people. An open relationship is a bit different. First, the basis of a couple, the duo, remains. An open relationship is above all two people who love each other, but for whom fidelity isn’t a priority. In other words, this relationship remains open to flirting, dates and therefore sexual relations too, without it having any impact on the pair 👩❤️💋👨.
Why choose an open relationship?
Some people thrive with monogamy and fidelity. For others, it’s more difficult, even suffocating, if it’s not painful. Love is important enough for everyone to enjoy, don’t you think? It’s not inconceivable to say that monogamy isn’t natural, and that the idea of a traditional relationship requires sacrifice and work. A sacrifice and work that not everyone wants. An open relationship avoids lying to yourself and to others 😬.
How to manage an open relationship? What are the rules?
An open relationship has many advantages, but in order for everyone to fully benefit from this freedom, a few rules are necessary. Let me explain!
An open relationship is therefore a relationship when each partner can look elsewhere. It’s therefore obvious that both partners must agree and consent to this type of relationship. One of the main strengths of non-monogamous people is their ability to communicate better, so if you’re considering an open relationship, you should talk to your partner honestly about it. Be careful that an open relationship doesn’t become a default choice. If one of the two people in the couple accepts this type of relationship out of love or to please the other, or even to keep them, then it’s far from the spirit of an open relationship or even a relationship full stop. 😏 Open doesn’t mean that you force your partner’s hand, otherwise, it’s a forced relationship and that’s harmful!
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2. The question of limits
Because love comes first, in an open relationship we avoid hurting each other. So once again, we communicate our expectations and limits. Do I want to know everything about my life partner’s lovers, or would I rather know nothing? Are feelings forbidden or allowed? 🤔 And many more questions you’ll have to answer together in order to know where you’re going so as not to get lost on the way!
3. The definition of fidelity
Open relationships redefine fidelity, but it’d be wrong to think that it annihilates it completely. The idea is that the other person’s body and sexuality don’t belong to us and, on an even wider level, they don’t belong to us as a whole person. That’s why this relationship is open because the sexuality of a couple isn’t limited to those who make up the couple. Fidelity goes far beyond sleeping with someone else.
However, there is a notion of fidelity in an open relationship, but it depends on each couple. One couple may decide to have sex with other people, but not fall in love. Another may decide that fidelity is about staying true to shared values 😊. Everyone is free to find the formula that suits them.
4. Trust and jealousy
These are two important notions that raise questions when we talk about open relationships. Here, trust is a necessity, as is honesty, tolerance, and even kindness. These are the essential ingredients for a solid loving relationship, but they are often the characteristics of couples in an open relationship. Because if we turn to jealousy, many of us say that we could never have an open relationship. We’d die of jealousy, but jealousy isn’t a vital feeling in love.
It’s a little embarrassing to imagine that the idea of a couple gives us the right to possess or even control the other person. A relationship, open or not, should also be a place of individual freedom. Open relationships therefore just go further by forgetting any jealousy and preferring to act rather than suffer. I listen to my impulses, my desires and those of my partner, rather than suffering infidelity, betrayal, and jealousy, especially as a monogamous relationship isn’t a protection in itself.
An open relationship: THE model to follow?
I want to say yes and no. An open relationship isn’t for everyone, but it is interesting for everyone as it invites us to question our ideas on our relationship, fidelity, jealousy and more generally, love. Culture and pop culture have taught us that a couple (often straight and always monogamous) was the Holy Grail.
That’s the goal, but when it doesn’t work, we found ourselves alone with a horrible feeling of failure, when all you need is to look at it through a different lens. It’s time to put a bit of serenity and fulfillment back into our love lives. Being single isn’t a defect, lifelong love isn’t a goal to be achieved, a monogamous relationship isn’t an end in itself, etc.
There’s not just one type of relationship. From commitment-phobes to convinced and happy monogamists, from libertines to polyamorists, from open relationships to happy singles... The only thing that really counts is to create something that makes you feel good and safe, and that your partner(s) feel(s) the same.
Editor’s note: the contract must be clear and unequivocal!
Not everyone can live in an open relationship. The couple needs to be strong and powerful, and above all must be able to talk about everything with kindness and complicity. Dialogue is the key, as it often is. Good communication will make the boundaries of the contract clear. If this contract isn’t well-defined or has gray areas, it will cause great suffering. An open relationship shouldn’t be seen simply as a way to spice up your relationship. Don’t hesitate to contact a psychologist to talk about your relationships and your expectations:
🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!
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