What Are Open Relationships? Practices & Downside

Open Relationships

Image source: Bonobology – Rules for Open Relationships.

Let get a definition of relationship before diving into open relationships. In certain relationships, one or both parties involved can comfortably chase sexual, physical, and emotional attraction for other people to fulfill their sexual desires without developing a new relationship.

It is a fun way to test new waters without feeling guilty. But it shouldn’t be confused with a way to help a failing relationship. It usually works better with partners who have a strong foundation of trust.

Societal and peer pressure have been a measure for people to decide how their relationships and sexuality should be. That shouldn’t be the case as a healthy relationship should be about partners that make each other happy.

What is an Open Relationship? 

Open relationships fall under the classification of consensually non-monogamous relationships. In simple terms, monogamy – which is sticking with one partner – does not apply here. 

They are often associated with swingers, where people in relationships have sex with random people at events and it ends there. 

Open relationships can also be confused with polyamory, where both partners are free to have more than one committed romantic partner. They are not so far from the truth as an open relationship is similar to both swinger and polyamory because the sex or romantic attraction they chase is purely causal. You can seek pleasure from other people, but you are not looking to get into another relationship.

Although it is fun to practice open relationships, people are not so receptive to it. They believe in the old-fashioned and proper way things should be. That shouldn’t be the case as in finding your sexuality you might want to explore and test around a few things to see what works best for you. 

Nowadays, people are more comfortable talking about themselves and their relationships, and that is cool. 

Also Read: How does being in love with oneself affect one’s mental state?

Why do people practice open relationships? 

A lot of the time, people resolve to keep an open relationship because they think it is the only way to remain with a cheating partner. It often starts with crushing on someone, to probably an affair. To avoid messy situations like these, people choose to go into an open relationship; it is better to inform your partner about your feelings and any sexual attractions you might be having for other people. That way, you can discuss your hopes to explore it rather than being caught cheating.  

In most long-term relationships, as the years go by, the spark and attraction tend to diminish as you go on searching for ways to bring back the passion. Someone new waltz into your life and you get all caught in a new attraction and feel like going for it. At this point, you will need to converse with your partner and both agree. Based on the level of love and trust you both share, it shouldn’t test the foundation of your relationship. 

People also choose to go into open relationships because they see it as beneficial in some ways when done with consensus.

  • It helps them to pursue new attractions that will excite and satisfy their sexual desires; which in turn might help improve the sex with their partner.
  • It opens up a deep sense of trust that comes from honest communication that gives both partners freedom to explore their sexuality with clear understanding.
  • It also allows you to bare it all to your partner and enjoy sexual pleasures without the fear of cheating and hurting each other.

Are open relationships for me?

Despite the strong backing that monogamous relationships have, it does not appeal to everyone.

The choice to be in an open relationship may seem tempting to you over the years as you may not feel the need to be with just one partner – because of marriage. Some people go into it as a result of certain experiences that made them explore the possibility of having more.

If you’re thinking of starting an open relationship then you have to communicate with your partner. But first, consider the status of your relationship, so you know how to approach the conversation. You should bring up the issue at the early stages of getting to know each other when it is still casual and your choice for non-monogamy should be clear. This way, it is left for other partners involved to decide to stay or leave. 


For married and committed couples who develop the sense of tilting towards an open relationship, you have to be more careful about the situation. This is because, at the initial stage of entering the relationship, monogamy was the idea. So it is only fair both partners stay faithful to one another. Thread with caution, be honest, and only pursue the new attraction when both partners have agreed to the idea of an open relationship while respecting the love and foundation of the primary relationship.

The downside of open relationships 

Exploring your sexual desires with someone new can be so enjoyable, people tend to lose focus of the whole idea. This comes with certain risks such as:

The major risk involved is jealousy; people do ugly things when they get jealous. This is why before going into an open relationship, be sure you can be comfortable with your partner being with other people. Another is developing bad feelings towards your partner, which originates from the new sexual experiences you had with other people.

There is also a risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy; this is why you should always practice safe sex. The freedom open relationships bring can make partners have a change in emotions. The best way to avoid these situations is to set physical, emotional, and sexual boundaries that you both can be comfortable with.

In conclusion, any form of relationship you choose to be in should be a source of happiness. Nothing should make you pursue a monogamous relationship if it’s not for you. Be sure you are not just doing it out of boredom.

Live your truth, it is your life and you should do what makes you happy without deliberately hurting anyone.

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