Relationships are changing and people are more fluid when it comes to how they choose to constitute their relationships. An open relationship is one in which both partners are free to date and have sex with other people according to the rules they agreed on. There’s the primary partner and then others who they’re involved with. Here are the pros and cons of open relationships, also referred to as consensual non-monogamy (CNM).
Pros of open relationships
You get to be with other people
This is one of the best things about open relationships. You get to be with other people while still ethically maintaining your primary relationship. You are free to pursue other relationships and connections with other people. That means no FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). There’s a measure of freedom in consensual non-monogamy relationships that is lacking in monogamous relationships.
Alleviate pressure on one person
Monogamous relationships put a ton of pressure on one person to meet all or majority of their partner’s emotional needs. Open relationships recognize this and see the value in alleviating this pressure. We have a wide range of emotional needs, and it makes sense to acknowledge that it’s difficult for one person to meet them all.
Sexually diverse experiences
It’s safe to assume that if you’re committed to one partner, that limits your range of sex-related experiences. This stands no matter how good your partner is in bed. An open relationship widens your experiences and allows you to pursue other sexual fantasies that cannot be met in your present monogamous setup. Variety as they say is the spice of life.
Know yourself better
An open relationship allows you to get to know yourself better. You get to see how you are in different relationships, what issues you bring to each relationship, and what your needs, desires, and boundaries are. It also provides opportunities for personal growth as you learn how to manage feelings like jealousy and being possessive about your partner.
Communication is important for all relationships but it’s doubly critical for non-monogamous arrangements. An open relationship demands openness, vulnerability, honesty about your needs, and being able to hear your partner too.
One of the reasons people cheat is that they make a commitment they have no intention and no ability to keep. Monogamy is not for everyone, for many people it is an unreasonable expectation. If you don’t think you can be monogamous, it’s best not to commit to it and just let your partner know.
Cons of open relationships
All relationships unearth a lot of feelings, open relationships take this to Olympic levels. Unpleasant emotions are guaranteed to pop up and put a strain on the open relationship. Jealousy is a common one so is guilt about the other relationships. Many people deal with the fear of losing their partner to other potential connections. There’s an increased feeling of vulnerability. There’s also the feeling that you’re competing with other people for your partner’s time and affection. This is terrible especially given that all of life in capitalist society already feels like a competition for everything. The last place you need to feel this way is in your relationship. All these feelings further complicate relationships which are already complex entities. Such feelings need to be dealt with carefully and maturely or the relationship could implode.
Risk of STDs and other diseases
Sex with multiple partners can be risky. No form of protection and contraceptive is 100% effective and there’s always the chance that something could go wrong.
Risk of relationship ending
In an open relationship, there’s the ever-present risk of you or your partner meeting someone else and forming a connection that strong enough to justify ending the relationship. By your own actions, you create an environment for them to experiment with other people and consider options outside the relationship.
Risk of hurting others
There’s a higher risk of hurting those you love in an open relationship. You could hurt your primary partner or the other people you’re dating especially if you don’t handle conflict well.
Loss of intimacy
There’s the risk of losing intimacy with your primary partner when you open up the relationship. Consider the fact that your time is now shared among multiple partners and not just your primary partner. This is bound to have an effect.
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