Social Question

Shippy's avatar

[NSFW?] What is your opinion of open relationships?

Asked by Shippy (9857 points ) January 5th, 2013

After watching an interesting program about one particular married couple, in regards to open relationships. I do feel there is some merit.

Their premise is basically total honesty, never bail or leave the committed relationship, and fear and guilt should not form part of their unison.

Along with the couple were the other people they had gathered due to having relationships with, all intertwined and all in love with various members of this micro community. Jealousy was discussed, but how can there be jealousy if you never leave for another? Do you feel this is an option you would consider at all? What for you would be the upsides and downsides of such a decision?

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55 Answers

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

With this kind of relationship it really does depend so much on the individuals and from a personal point of view I would need to feel very secure in the central relationship before even thinking about this kind of thing.

I can see how it can remove some of the doubts or fears, but I would imagine that at the start it would still be tough as those fears and doubts would still remain to a certain extent.

Would I consider it? Only if there was 100% agreement from both parties and every aspect had been thought about and anybody else would need to be vetted by both. Would I need it? I don’t think so because to me my SO is the best out there.

Kardamom's avatar

It sounds good in theory, but just because you agree not to leave the initial relationship, does not mean that a person will not feel jealousy or neglect. If only one person in the initial relationship is carrying on multiple relationships with other people, the less spread out partner in the initial relationship is extremely likely to feel like they aren’t getting enough time, attention or whatever it is they might need or want. Even if both partners are carrying on equal numbers of other relationships, one or both people in the initial relationship are bound to either feel jealous, or the the other side of that coin, is to stop feeling much of anything for the intial partner.

Also, just because the 2 people in the initial relationship claim that they won’t leave, why shouldn’t they leave if they find themselves unhappy with the person or the relationship, in the same way that people in traditional monogamous relationships do?

To me, “open relationships” sound like a convenient way for people to carry on with multiple partners without having to invest any time or energy into comittment. For me, time, energy and comittment are important. Having a partner who spreads him/herself thin is not giving much to any particular relationship. They might as well be single and simply carry on having casual sex with multiple partners. For some people that might be OK. For me it would not.

livelaughlove21's avatar

If it works with both partners, there’s nothing wrong with it. To each their own.

Could I do it? Probably not.

wundayatta's avatar

I guess I think that if it’s someone else, then it’s none of my business. If it were me, then I think some of the concerns raised by the folks above me are serious concerns. I would agree with @Kardamom that you need to give an appropriate amount of time and attention to each person you love. You would not want anyone to feel left out because they they’d probably get jealous. At the very least, there would be hurt feelings to deal with.

I think that getting the right amount of time is an issue that depends on the people involved. Some people don’t want much time. They need a lot of alone time. Some people need to spend a lot of time with a lover, and one lover just isn’t interested in that much attention or in that kind of attention. So it could work out better if you had multiple lovers and it balanced out for all involved.

That would be the trick though. The more people invoved, the harder it is to balance all people’s needs. However, in theory, you could do it, and if you can do it, I have no problem with it. If you can’t do it, or if you keep on messing it up, and people are hurt and angry a lot, then it seems like it’s not working.

I think it would take special people to make it work, and that most people would not be interested. But for those who are interested and can make it work, it seems to me that it should be a socially sanctioned option.

Coloma's avatar

As long as everyone is honest and in agreement, however, the concept of ” never bail on the primary relationship” is an unrealistic and ridiculous caveat that cannot even be honored in most monogamous relationships. I don’t believe in “forever” anything, let alone most romantic and sexual relationships.
Personally it’s not my cup o’ tea and being the epicure that I am if I find a tastier cheesecake why WOULDN’T I drop Sarah Lee? lol

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Been there, done that.

Fairness is a vital component of any relationship.

The difficulty in achieving fairness increases exponentially with every additional partner.

janbb's avatar

I think open relationships potentially open a can of worms but if it works for you, I don’t have a problem with it.

Shippy's avatar

What @Kardamom says, makes sense. Although I do like the idea of total honesty, as well as the option to love and to allow my partner to love, even more than just myself. When times got tough, as they do in a relationship, the extra partner they have already built history with might start looking like a better option.

Aster's avatar

Are you kidding? Maybe on another continent if you had zero jealousy genes. But to do that with family members all around? To think of my s/o in bed with another woman? I hear it’s going to be the New Thing soon. And that makes it ok? I am way too traditional to ever give it a thought. And too old for a divorce. But you guys enjoy. Just the mere suggestion of it by my s/o would give me a panic attack. lol And I think the men who would indulge in such a thing wouldn’t be exactly the cream of the crop. I’ll pass.

flutherother's avatar

It’s not really my thing but if it suits other couples then fair enough. I have become more open minded as I have got older but I still feel that an open relationship is less of a relationship than an exclusive one. The most important thing I suppose is to be honest with each other.

wundayatta's avatar

@Aster I don’t think any man could get away with it unless he was the cream of the crop and had two women wanting him so badly that they were willing to share. On the other hand, if he were willing to put up with his female partner having other lovers while he was faithful, then that would be another issue, entirely. That might be the sign of a man with poor self esteem.

To have an open relationship where everyone had equal numbers of relationships seems to me like it would be unusual. A three way relationship is probably more stable than a four way relationship. And if you get to higher numbers of relationships, then it does seem to me you quickly get to the point where you don’t spend much time with people.

However one way that might work is if the people you love are spread out over the country, and you rarely see them. You might be with them for a week or two over the course of a year. I can see people not being nearly as threatened by that as they might be if your lovers lived nearby all year round. On the other hand, if they lived in your house, that might be more stable.

spykenij's avatar

I’m old fashioned. I like things 1 on 1. People seem to think that monogomy isn’t natural and that it doesn’t work. It’s displayed in several species, including our own and history shows us that it can and does work. Some people are cut out for it and these days, it seems to be less and less. We’ll see how that works out when a lot of time has passed. If you can do it, more power to you, but I cannot. My heart has a one track mind when it comes to the object of my affections.

Coloma's avatar

Well…don’t get me wrong, I prefer one on one intimacy and have always been a faithful relationship partner, but…the very FACT of being given Carte Blanche to roam the bakeries of the world while expecting to keep savoring the same old stale pastry at home does not really set things up for a positive outcome IMO.
I liken open relationships to dieting.
If I really want to appreciate that salad at home I am not going to gorge on junk food and then try to con myself that the bowl of carrot sticks are really desirable after stuffing my face on pizza. haha

nikipedia's avatar

Hardest thing I’ve ever done but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

@Kardamom, this is really offensive—“To me, ‘open relationships’ sound like a convenient way for people to carry on with multiple partners without having to invest any time or energy into comittment.”

Do you think people who go to work from 9 to 5 are neglecting their partners? How much time do you have to spend with each other for your relationship to “count”?

jonsblond's avatar

It’s something I would never consider for myself. I’m happy with the person I am with.

Coloma's avatar

Well..IMO, I think it all sounds fucking EXHAUSTING! I mean, it takes freaking YEARS, if not decades, to truly form a real “intimate” connection with another human being.
I find the idea of multiple “intimacy” true intimacy, not just banging body parts together like Macaques on the streets of India, to be an oxymoron.
Shit…I don’t even have the time or desire for one relationship these days let alone multiples.

augustlan's avatar

I have no problem with them at all, so long as everyone is happy with the arrangement. I could do it, but my husband would never be able to, so it’s not an option for us.

marinelife's avatar

They don’t work for me, but I am fine with then for others.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Oh well thanks for thinking there is merit to relationships other than what everyone else is convinced is the inherent way to be together. ~

I am in an open marriage. Works for us. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Monogamy is not for us.

spykenij's avatar

@Coloma – I’m laughing so hard at how you wrote that last response! XD

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I’m cool with others, polyamoury is just not for me, as monogomy is not for you. It scares the hell out of me for me because I know how very emotional I am. The only appealing thing to me is the never leaving each other because when I’m in love – it doesn’t end. I can be with someone several years later and still get butterflies. I’m a dreamer and I want my dream. I am so glad to see you on here still :) It’s been around a year since we last communicated. Do you remember talking to me on here halfway – the end of 2011?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@spykenij I remember and I’m the same way – emotional and with my partner, I get the same butterflies 6 years later.

spykenij's avatar

Awesome :) I’m happy you are happy ;)

wildpotato's avatar

I’ve been in one for eight years. We’re planning on getting married and maintaining the openness. I love many people, and I wouldn’t want to be with someone who expected me to restrict my physical or emotional intimacy to him or her alone. Likewise, I do not expect something so unrealistic of my partners. Humans are not animals that are monogamous for life; we’re just occasional pair-bonders who have built a structure of social expectations around the idea of being monogamous.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

IMHO, it’s just asking for trouble.

jca's avatar

I say to each his own. Who am I to say something is not good or correct, if it works for the people involved? People need to do whatever they feel they have to in order to make it work. Some people travel solo in order to have some alone time, some come home every night and drink glass after glass of wine, some cheat, some just lay in bed with their back to their partner and that’s acceptable to them, so if open relationships work for those involved, more power to them.

It’s not for me, because if I like someone or am with someone, it’s that man alone who turns me on,who I want to hug, who I want to fuck, who I want to smell, who I want to be with. I also tend to be jealous and would probably become insecure, wondering if his affection for the other woman or women surpassed his affection for me.

Coloma's avatar

Meh….I’m way beyond jealously, I just don’t want to invest the energy.
I’d rather be thinking up new entrepreneurish schemes while lying on the memory foam. I don’t want anyone elses memory on my mattress. lol

Blondesjon's avatar

Somebody is going to get hurt.

whether they admit it or not

wildpotato's avatar

@Blondesjon No argument. Part of the idea with a real open relationship (in my experience) is to acknowledge when hurt happens and to work through it. I can’t imagine these hypothetical people who “don’t admit it” lasting very long in a relationship with each other.

bob_'s avatar

I don’t think they’re a good idea (either for the “open couple” or for the people who get involved with one of them), but hey, live and let die.

Blondesjon's avatar

I don’t expect to get hurt. You don’t expect to get hurt. We both can’t imagine these hypothetical people who “don’t admit it”.

That means the probability for hurt lies in the other folks that aren’t you and I.

Kardamom's avatar

@nikipedia I’m sorry that you feel offended by my answer. There is no magic number of minutes or hours or days that one should spend with their S/O. What I object to, is the fact that a person, man or woman, would think that it’s cute or cool or awesome to spread their marital affection and attention amongst multiple persons who think it’s equally cool or awesome or cute to spread their affections (and sexuality) amongst multiple people. To me, that is offensive. But that’s just me. You can screw whoever you want to.

There is no demand for anyone to get married (and some gay people would die for the chance to have a traditional one on one marriage). If someone simply wants to have multiple sex partners with no comittment (except maybe a fake one called
“open marriage”) then have at it, there are no laws against it.

If you want to screw multiple partners, to each his own. There is no such thing as open marriage. Either you’re married (under the laws of your own state) or you’re having multiple affairs with whomever, either of which is legal. You can do what you want (if you’re straight).

I had a boss who had an “open marriage.” He used that niftly little title to hook up with every chicky who would have him. His first wife agreed to that idea because she thought he would be true to her and would not stray. He banged every female that was willing to buy into his idea of open marriage, because it sounded so free and empowering. What ultimately happened was that his first wife fell in love with someone else, and she filed for divorce. He ended up marrying someone else, without the benefit of the open marriage agreement and guess what? He is now cheating on her, only she doesn’t know about it, at least not officially. Cute huh?

You can bang who you like, and marry who you like (as long as you are straight) and you can be offended as much as you like. But for me, open marriage is a farce.

Paradox25's avatar

I say to each their own concerning issues like this, afterall most open marriages/relationships are made up of two honest partners who know full well the circumstaces/conditions beforehand. The only thing that I can’t accept or respect is dishonesty.

tups's avatar

I think open relationships are just fine if all people think it’s the best for them. I don’t think it’s cool if one part does it just to keep the other parts from going away. But if it’s the best for both parts, then I think it’s perfectly fine.

I know that if I were truly in love with someone, I would not be able to bear the thought of them being with somebody else. That might be selfish or close-minded, but that’s how it is. I would be dying of jealousy. But that’s just me.

wundayatta's avatar

I do believe I’ve seen more marriages that were a farce than open relationships that were a farce.

I think the social pressure we face to stay in a marriage we can’t stand is a farce. But that’s the way society works, and few people can stand up to the ostracism they will suffer from if they are honest about how miserable their marriages make them.

nikipedia's avatar

@Kardamom, from your answer it is clear that you are misunderstanding how non-monogamous relationships work on a very fundamental level.

You said, “If someone simply wants to have multiple sex partners with no comittment”—why do you think commitment necessarily requires exclusivity? Why does not being exclusive mean you are less committed?

And where do you draw the line? Are you less committed if you have friends of the opposite sex? If you hug your friends of the opposite sex? If you flirt with a friend of the opposite sex one time? Two times? If you kiss your friend of the opposite sex on the cheek? At what point does having feelings for a third person necessarily mean that your feelings for your partner are a “farce”?

Coloma's avatar

I dunno…personally I think it all smacks of sexual addiction.
Maybe not for everyone, but again, I agree with @Kardamom.
I too have known several people ( men ) that are sex addicts and of course, rationalizing an open relationship is just that, an excuse to keep a steady flow of new “supply”. When they have been in relationships of a monogamous nature they have been serial cheaters.

Sex, romance and relationship addiction is a huge problem in this society.

ucme's avatar

I don’t have an opinion on this, that’s there business.

wundayatta's avatar

You know, @Coloma, that according to the definition of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, you could be said to have the addiction? If I am to believe your descriptions of your life, you are a sex and love anorexic. That is, according to them, as unhealthy as whatever you think sex addiction is.

Now, personally, I don’t think you can be addicted to sex and love, and it certainly isn’t in the DSMIV and it will not be in the DSMV. So the psychiatric community does not recognize it as a disorder of any kind.

Anyway, something to think about. If you want more information about it, you can google SLAA. I’m sure you’ll find a lot of information about the anorexic side of love addiction.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta No, you would be incorrect. In my growth and health I have made a conscious CHOICE to not be in relationship the last 5 years. I have devoted this time to myself, my growth and my interests in a healthy manner. The “problem” with all of this is that it is seen as normal in this society to constantly feel the need to be coupled up, or in a relationship. Just as the two other biggest addictions that are seen as “normal” are workaholism and addiction to money.

I have fully recovered from my unhealthy ways of relating and adore being single.
My work and growth has led to nothing but happiness, inner peace and liberation from the programming.
Believe it or not, I don’t care. :-)

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma I believe you. It’s just that you mention love and sex addiction (which you appear to believe in), and so I thought I’d tell you about the anorexia side of that model, in case you didn’t know. I don’t think they would think you were healthy, because they think health is having normal relationships. No matter how much you adore being single, I don’t think they would think you have recovered yet. They are a peculiar crew of people, imho.

jca's avatar

I think we should avoid diagnosing people if we’re not professionals, @wundayatta.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta Yes, I am aware of the anorexia side of the model. Really…compulsive behavior or any kind, has it’s problems. I think using the word, “compulsive” rather than “addiction” is best. Having “normal” relationships is not just about romantic or sexual involvement. Friendships, relationships with our kids, coworkers, neighbors etc. are all just as viable as romantic connections. Love is love and it doesn’t have to have genitalia attached to be viable.
Of course there are gazillions of other mitigating factors, such as age, personality style, on and on.

My particular personality as a thinking female is not as oriented towards relationship as most feelers are. I consider myself to be pretty well integrated these days, but my passions for learning and personal growth trump my desire for relationship at this time.
Never say never, certainly, but just not a priority for me at this time. It’s all good!

@jca Nobody is diagnosing, just sharing thoughts based on knowledge.

wundayatta's avatar

I am in full agreement with you, @jca. Also, with @Coloma.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

@jca I submit that amateurs can diagnose all they wish here.

This is the Internet, not a court of law.

Coloma's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 Yes, we are all “experts” in our own way, isn’t that the entire premise for this site? haha

wundayatta's avatar

Well, I haven’t seen any diagnosing yet, so if we’re going to diagnose, someone better to it first!

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta I diagnose that your ass has a global spread. The continents are breaking apart. lol

wundayatta's avatar

Continental drift. Real pain in the a…..

Shippy's avatar

@Coloma I am so hearing you here.

Coloma's avatar

I wouldn’t want to fall into that crevice.lol

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Coloma no one would; it hasn’t been dusted in years!

Coloma's avatar

^^^ LOL

wundayatta's avatar

That dust is sacred, baby!

Mariah's avatar

I don’t think it would probably work for me, but if other people can make it work, they have my full support.

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