Are more and more couples exploring open relationships and should you be too?

Every relationship is different and personal to each person/couple. Some people may be open to having an open (polyamorous) relationship whilst others may not. This could be for several reasons such as it goes against their value/belief/religious system whilst others may be quite familiar with it from a cultural perspective.

At the end of the day it is a personal choice as to whether one would want to opt for being in an open relationship and the responsibilities that come with it both from a ‘self’ perspective and from the other partners involved.

Being in an open relationship has both it’s pros and cons and needs some serious consideration before you take that step.

An open relationship is different for every person involved, there is often a myth or perception that an open relationship means having more sex when it’s not necessarily true but it can also provide opportunities to. Rather it’s more about having an emotional connection that is different to your “primary” partner.

Your primary relationship can be defined in many different way e.g. the person you live with, share expenses with, spend most of your time with whilst the other person(s) don’t necessarily share those elements but can bring something different to the relationship. The key thing is that it’s clear to all involved, it’s transparent and there are defined rules or boundaries to keep everyone safe (e.g. no sleeping with someone else in our bed/bedroom etc).

  • Forming an emotional connection with the other person leaves one open to feelings of jealousy and insecurities.
  • Juggling time/schedules spent with each partner.
  • Sexual health risk factors for all parties involved
  • Managing expectations, dealing with conflict/issues and miscommunication.
  • Not having the emotional maturity to deal with an open/poly/multiple partner relationship.
  • You get a variety of support from your different partners
  • Having partners with different interests to each other provides opportunities to do things with one partner that another partner may be totally disinterested in.
  • Exploring your sexual fantasies and fetishes, being open to experimenting and exploring yourself and your own sexual preferences and identity
  • Having to learn to communicate on various levels and in various different ways
  • Being mature about your own identity, managing boundaries, conflict, personal choices, partners and possible consequences thereof.

It takes courage to want to explore/be in open relationships, how to work through potential feelings of jealousy, how to feel supported by your partner and your friends, and, above all, the importance of love and honesty. It’s no different for monogamous relationships where we should prioritise communication, be honest, open, transparent, collaborate and respect each other — these same things are important in any relationship.

No one relationship is the same so each couple needs to find what works for them and their relationship/needs and not compare themselves to others as they are on a different journey and path. Comparing yourself, your partner or your relationship preferences can cause hurt and disappointment and it’s unfair on everyone involved.

Paula Quinsee: Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of Embracing Conflict and Embracing No. Paula teaches individuals and companies tools and skills to immediately and positively enhance the quality of their personal and organisational relationships. She is a consultant to SA TV show “Married at first Sight”, conducts regular monthly workshops, writes articles for a number of platforms and hosted podcasts for Niche Radio and UK Health Radio.


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