Social Question

mowens's avatar

What are your thoughts on open relationships?

Asked by mowens (8290 points ) November 25th, 2009

Personally, I would never do one, and would be offended if anyone ever offered. To me, I think that if I were in a relationship with someone and they wanted to do this, I would be hurt. “What, am I not enough for you?” It is like a license to cheat. But, I don’t think less of anyone for being in one.

What do you think about them?
Would you ever partake in one?
Have you?

The entomology of this question:

In the gay world, it seems to be an unwritten rule that guys assume it is o.k to have an open relationship. Well, none of my CLOSE friends feel that way, but I know a lot of guys that do. To me that is asinine! Am I a prude for thinking that I would never do that?

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57 Answers

MrItty's avatar

” In the gay world, it seems to be an unwritten rule that guys assume it is o.k to have an open relationship”

That’s pure BS. It is no more a rule in the “gay world” than it is in the “straight world”

In general, an open relationship in my mind is an oxymoron. If you’re in a (romantic) relationship with someone, you’re in a relationship with just that person.

J0E's avatar

I don’t get why anyone would even be in a relationship if you want it to be open, what’s the point?

If you want to do that stuff just don’t get in a relationship.

wildpotato's avatar

I don’t think you’re a prude, just that you happen to feel the way you do. While some may take aversion to an open relationship to be close-minded, I think that most feelings can’t be characterized as a good or bad thing.

Me personally, I couldn’t be in a relationship that isn’t open. I love many people, and feel sad if I’m forced to restrict my love due to the jealousy of others. I don’t feel jealousy, myself, and will have no truck (be in a relationship, that is) with others who do feel it. I think that my openness to many is simply an aspect of my character, and “good” or “bad,” my partner must accept it in order to be able to say he loves me, all of me.

I’ve been with only one partner who has taken advantage of my lack of jealousy, and I never felt the “What, I’m not enough for you?” feeling. It had nothing to do with me, and it was just sex. We’re human animals – we like to have sex, and some of us like to have sex with many, many people. For certain partners, it makes sense that being with one person would not be enough. As long as I trust you to not bring disease into your life or mine, why be upset? The relationship is predicated on love, not on exclusivity in the bedroom. It is a licence, but it can’t be called cheating if lying is not involved.

I’m a hetero (if anything) female.

I am acquainted with the popular “knowledge” on gay lifestyle that you are citing, and can understand why you made that comment. However, I must warn you that in this forum, it is very likely to be taken as an extremely blanketed statement which covers a diverse group of people. You may have been correct, about a certain prominent percentage of the gay population, many years ago, living in LA or NYC. However, nowadays the situation has evolved not only in terms of popular perception, but also in fact.

jonsblond's avatar

I agree with @J0E. I just couldn’t do it. My husband is all that I need and I have no desire to screw around with anyone else. I have nothing against couples that do this, it’s just not my thing.

flameboi's avatar

best thing satellite tv :)

Ivan's avatar

@J0E

Pretty much agree.

IBERnineD's avatar

I know I wouldn’t be able to do it myself, but some people have difficulties being monogamous and feel the open relationship route is necessary. If you can work it out more power to you, I just know it’s not an option in my book. I’m far too selfish, when it comes to relationships, at least the aspect that I can’t share. :)

janbb's avatar

I think if it works for the people involved, it’s fine, but that in most cases somebody is ultimately going to get hurt.

mowens's avatar

@MrItty What I mean by the unwritten rule comment, is that they are blatantly obvious about it. I know guys that have have messed around with other people more than with their SO. I just don’t get it. They talk to eachother about a hook up they just had! That is not normal!

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I would never do it. What that tells me about a person is that they value the physical feeling of sex more than the emotional relationship with their partner. To me it says their priorities are a bit out of whack.

MacBean's avatar

In the gay world, it seems to be an unwritten rule that guys assume it is o.k to have an open relationship.

Excuse me? This is not my experience at all. Even less so when taking your reply to @MrItty into consideration. I think you’re not hanging around with the right people.

The only people I know who have open relationships/marriages are heterosexual. When I’m in a relationship, I offer for it to be open, because I don’t like sex and don’t put any importance on it. As long as I know what the other person is up to and as long as their emotional attachment is to me, I’m cool with them having their physical needs met elsewhere. I’ve never actually had anyone take me up on the offer yet, though. (Probably because “I don’t like sex” means I don’t like receiving. I’m more than happy to give.)

smack's avatar

I have been in one, and it’s fun when you’re together… but when you’re apart, and you know they’re hooking up with someone else, it’s awful. But then, when you’re hooking up with someone else, it’s great! And you feel so free, while knowing there’s someone you can always go back to. Overall, though, they’re destructive and temporary and pretty much what’s wrong with immature society today.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You have some hazy ideas about the ‘gay world’ (as if there is such a thing). I am in an open marriage and I find that it takes two people who are always communicating to handle such a thing and many couples aren’t good at communicating or dropping jealousy. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone but it’s made us into better people, we’ve learned from all of our experiences of being in an open relationship.

hug_of_war's avatar

I don’t care what other people in terms of their own relationships.

Having said that, an open relationship is just not for me. I like just having one person I’m totally committed to. I have no interest in having intimate relationships with anyone else. And I don’t think I’m the kind of person who can separate sex and love, it would seem empty to me. If my boyfriend asked for an open relationship, I’d break up with him.

I think few people are as okay with open relationships as they’d like to believe because it sounds like you get the best of everything but we humans are complex, messy creatures and both people need to be on the same page about it, without being forced into it.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Throughout childhood and over my adult years I’ve seen them attempted but never seen a succesful one.

mowens's avatar

@MacBean These arent the people I call my friends, these are people that I have tried to date. the second that comes on the table I usually flat out say that is a terrible idea. There is one guy I had a conversation with… where he said he didnt believe monogomy COULD apply to gay relationships. He said “sure, they say that’s what they want. But I have had sex with most of them in this city.”

It is ridiculous. Maybe it is just the gay scene here in town… which I truly hope that is the case. I have talked to gay guys who moved here from somewhere else, and they said that the gay scene here in this City is waaaaay different from wherever they came from. They say it’s like everyone never left high school.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence you should come over, then

MacBean's avatar

@mowens: Where do you live? I want to avoid it. :(

hghgbvvn's avatar

Having a emotional connection with someone and sex are two different thing, me and my bf have a emotional connecting and that’s why we go out and we know sex is an added extra but we feel sex and this connection are separate. (I’m also a guy) We can sex with other people and that’s ok. we used to have sex with many people we were not in relationships with and the same is true now.

sjmc1989's avatar

@J0E Basically said it all for me.

mowens's avatar

@hghgbvvn Just to confirm, you are in an open relationship?

How many people do you know that are as well?

hghgbvvn's avatar

@mowens
Yes, my bf was against it at first but when he know I wouldn’t go into anyother sort of relationship he gave up. I’m the only person I know in an open relationship.

@sjmc1989
It’s all down to feelings so I’ll try and explain it to the best of my abilities. It’s just making it official you both are going out, to make it clear to other people we’re dating, similar to marriage in some respects. Sex doesn’t mean you fancy someone or want to go out with them it’s just sex and of course that can become a big part of relationships but I don’t feel like that.

justme1's avatar

i would, i have told my fiance that if he ever wants to he is allowed. However he never does and makes me feel like the most important!

Haleth's avatar

It seems like this works best for people who are in very long-term relationships, because it takes a lot of trust and communication to make something like this work. I don’t see why anyone would want to do this for a more casual relationship- why not just declare yourself single and have sex with who ever you want?

I would be willing to try it, but most of my relationships have been relatively short. By the time I start thinking about sex with other people, everything else has usually gone downhill too, so there would be no reason to stick around and try to form an open relationship.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Haleth hm, that’s a good point…my husband and I are definitely committed to each other and our children for the lifetime…so none of our encounters with others come close to touching that

simplicity's avatar

I’ve never been in one but will always give that option to any person that I am with, even if they do not offer it to me. I’d rather accept them and their needs fully than restrict their freedom solely to meet my needs. On the flip side of that I don’t really feel jealousy in a negative way, I buzz off it, its an exciting feeling!

Also, I’ve known many people that would have been much better off getting an open relationship going and being honest with themselves and their partner about their needs than all the deception required and hurt caused by sleeping around behind their back.

MacBean's avatar

@Haleth & @Simone_De_Beauvoir: Yes, that’s how it is with the couples I know whose open relationships work well. They are definitely in it for the long haul and don’t want to spend their lives with anyone else. They just like something a little different every once in a while.

Fernspider's avatar

I am bi-sexual and often feel I am lacking the feminine experiences of sex (being in a serious relationship with a man that is). I have thrown the idea of a 3-some out there which is he not keen on. I respect his feelings and don’t push the issue.

It would be nice to have one-on-one sexual experiences with a woman but know that this would hurt my partner. So I will just have to live with my choice to be with him and be exclusive with him.

filmfann's avatar

I have several friends in open relationships, and they all end up divorcing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@filmfann lots of couples end up divorcing…they can’t all divorce because of this…they were probably incapable of being together anyway

filmfann's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I am sure there are other reasons couples divorce. I am saying that when this behavior is present, I don’t know of ANY marriages that survive. Often these same people carry this behavior to their next marriage, with the same result.
I also know of marriages without that aspect that divorce, of course, but not with the regularity of open marriages.

jonsblond's avatar

@filmfann So close to having a 10K Turkey Day. I’d help you reach it but I’ve given you all of my lurve. :)

janbb's avatar

@filmfann I’ve noticed that too but also maxed out on you, I imagine.

filmfann's avatar

@janbb and @jonsblond Thanks. It’s probably bad form for me to notice it, but I am kind of excited about it.
@janbb You too, soon enough!

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s an individual choice. It works for some people and that’s fine. For me it wouldn’t work.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@filmfann well how long should a couple be married before you think they ‘survived’ ? been two and a half years for us..does that count?

filmfann's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I hope things go well for you. Most of the open relationships I have seen went south over 10 years or so. I hope you prove me wrong.

evil2's avatar

I am in a semi-open relationship, my gf is bisexual but has never done anything with a woman, I dont want to lose her over sex so i have allowed her to experiment with same sex partners , this works for us , I’m not saying that i am right or not but for me it works….

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@evil2 you have allowed her?

evil2's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir maybe not the best term to use, I had agreed with her that that behaviour was acceptable in our relationship…

mellow_girl's avatar

people can do what they want, but it’s not for me…

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I would never be happy in an open relationship.
I want to be her only and I want to have only her.

Otherwise, why be a couple?

What ever makes you both happy and hurts nobody is fine – for others.

Zen_Again's avatar

Similar to yours.

Hi, @Dr_Lawrence – I see we agree on this one.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I suspect previously monogamous couples consider open marriage when one partner wants to be free to have sex with one or more other partners and their spouse agrees to opening the marriage instead of seeking to end it.

There are a number of common rationalizations used to support such a move but it comes down to (in my opinion) a case of someone (often the man) wanting to have his Kate and Edith too.

What makes a marriage special is the exclusivity of the intimacy (not just sexual) and when intimacy is shared with others (whether in the sexual sense or not) something unique and special about the relationship is compromised.

I am not morally opposed to open marriage. It just seems to me to be a path towards diminishing the special nature of the one to one commitment and implicit trust.

Opening a marriage rarely results in symmetrical outcomes for the two (original) partners. Someone gets to have guilt-free sex with others and their spouse gets to feel that they have given up so much more than the “freedom” they supposedly gained in the change of the rules underlying the marriage.

In the rare cases where both partners experience of their marriage is enhanced and the relationship is strengthened and preserved, the outcome is positive. I suspect that in most cases, opening a marriage is a step towards dissolution or at least diminution of the marital relationship. The idea is most likely more appealing than the resulting reality.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence Our marriage and our relationship began as an open one without any prospects in site – it was more about the philosophy behind compersion and the principle of not owning the other person. I have never felt that any of my interactions with others took away from my interaction with my husband – you can think of differen planes – all the friends, sexual interests, what have you exist on one plane and our relationship exists on a plane much above them.

Fernspider's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence – Kate and Edith too. * Giggle * Love it!

Coloma's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence

I agree wholeheartedly. Well said.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Sorry cupcake but 2.5 years is a mere drop in the longterm relational bucket, almost laughable if you’ve been in the 20+ year arena.

Marriagea that make the double or triple decade mark are becoming rarer and rarer, let alone tossing the relational salad with the mix & match scene.

Good luck, you’re gonna need it. Not being sarcastic, just factual.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma Oh, have you been int he 20+ year arena or did you divorce? Furthermore, don’t call me cupcake, ever. You’re no in no position to sound that condescending.

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Not intending to sound condescending, apologies for my style if it seemed innapropriate.

Yes, I did divorce after 22 yrs. 26 total in that relationship, best thing I ever did.

No regrets and I am far wiser and better for the experience.

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Just sayin’, given the ever changing nature of life and how much people change from their teens, to their 20’s to their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and so forth, 2 years is a very, very, VERY, short time to measure a relationships longterm success rate.

Relationships fail for many reasons, let alone stacking the deck against longterm success with choices that are known to have poor prognosis for longevity of intimacy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma Never said it was a long time – I can’t measure my relationship’s success until years pass, obviously but that doesn’t mean anything for whether or not it’ll ‘survive’.

Kraken's avatar

Not interested.
No sincerity = no trust = no relationship.

A dating relationship means closure of some sort to me.
I.E. We are seeing each other….. so I say nah, horrible.

iamthemob's avatar

Personally, I think monogamy is totally unnatural. Arguably it’s a product of paternalistic family controls. Sex is one of the funnest things ever. Intimacy is very different. There’s no real logical reason to relate sexual fidelity to personal fidelity. So why do we feel the need to require someone to give up diverse experiences in order to prove themselves to us, especially when sexual infidelity (or suspected infidelity) is one of the most commonly cited reasons for ending a relationship.

More important than anything is communication. I’m in an open relationship now, and it’s great. But we’ve both said if we started to feel hurt, for whatever reason, by the other’s sexual behavior, that’s the end of it. Open relationships work when the people in it are ACTUALLY open with each other.

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