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What are Open Relationships? Definition, Pros, Cons, Types, and everything else

What are Open Relationships? Definition, Pros, Cons, Types, and everything else

Updated on Dec 07, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Open Relationships - Definition, Pros, Cons, Types, and Everything Else

Are you curious about an open relationship? Or, did you come across open marriages around you and want to try it?

Maybe your partner and you don’t have an equal appetite for sex and you don’t know how to handle the situation anymore.

Well, if you’re uncertain, know that an open relationship won’t hurt the emotions involved if you have consent.

Perhaps you can’t express your curiosity because people feel it’s something unethical or worse, a disease.

But really, it’s not, and you’re at the right place to know all about open relationships.

So let’s start with the basics…

Open Relationship Infographic

Open Relationship - Definition, Signs & Advantages
Open Relationship – Definition, Signs & Advantages

What is an open relationship (open relationship meaning)?

Some define open relationships as a cluster of all ethical non-monogamous relationships, others define it as a subtype of ethical non-monogamy. The definition depends on the partners.

Open relationships are a kind of non-monogamous relationship which falls under the Ethical Nonmonogamous umbrella.

Usually, when a couple in a primary relationship agrees to open up the marriage or primary relationship into another sexual connection with no romantic involvement, you call it an open relationship.

Also, some people define an open relationship as an umbrella term for all forms of ethical non-monogamy like polyamory or swingers.

So, depending from person to person, it can be a class of relationships or the umbrella itself including all non-monogamous relationships, or it can be a subhead of the Ethical Non-monogamous umbrella.

Actually, it doesn’t have a strict definition, rather it depends on the people in open relationships.

You might not be aware but many might practice open relationships but call it differently. So let’s find out…

What are the other names for open relationships?

Open relationships have different names like “consensual non-monogamy” or “consensually non-monogamous relationships” when both parties agree to make their relationship or marriage non-monogamous.

“Polyamory”, “polyamorous relationships”, and “non-monogamy”, all mean an open relationship.

Only “polygamy” is an illegal non-monogamous relationship in the United States which might be a kind of open marriage.

Although they use so many terms interchangeably, Polyamory isn’t the same as an open relationship and this is how…

Open relationship vs Polyamory

You can engage in an open relationship without any strings attached, but not in Polyamorous relationships. Let’s learn some more interesting differences…

Open relationshipsPolyamorous relationships
The people involved in an open relationship other than the primary partners may or may not have a romantic relationship.The people involved in a polyamorous relationship with the primary partners are always romantically involved, as per sex educator Liz Powell.
The primary partners might or might not get their emotions involved with the secondary partners.The primary partners bond emotionally with the secondary partners.
You may or may not love multiple people simultaneously in an open relationship. It depends on the primary partners’ decisions.You can love more than one person at a time in a polyamorous relationship.
Open relationships have nothing to do with people’s identity. It is their choice to not stick to one partner.Polyamory is like an identity to the polyamorous people. For instance, you can compare it with sexuality, according to sex educator Davia Frost.
Open relationship partners might not admit their partner’s partners as family.Polyamorous relationships are so endearing that they (usually) admit their partner’s partner like family.

If you think sleeping with another makes a cheating partner, think again from here…

Open Relationship vs Cheating

You can engage with another person sexually, but it’s not cheating when your partner allows it. So let’s get rid of the misconceptions…

Open RelationshipsCheating
The primary partners know about each other’s relationships beyond their relationship.One primary partner has no idea that the cheating partner is sexually or romantically involved with another.
Open relationships are ethical.Cheating is unethical.
Primary partners may or may not allow the relationship with another partner (Consensual and non-consensual non monogamy respectively).The primary partner, who’s being cheated, never wants the partner to involve with other romantic or sexual partners.
Any outsider’s interference cannot disrupt the primary relationship as they’re aware of the situation.Any outsider’s info on the cheating partner to the other can easily break the relationship.
Primary partners in open relationships don’t intend to hurt each other and care about one another’s emotions.The cheating partner never bothers about the other partner’s feelings or emotions.

But hey, open relationships aren’t all the same, so learn the…

Types of open relationships

You may have an open relationship if you’re legally bound like marriage, in a committed relationship, and even when you’re casually dating. 

So, these types of relationships can lead to an open relationship when they have consent for

  • Casual dates with people other than the primary partner or spouse
  • Romantic relationships with people other than the primary partner or spouse, and
  • Sexual or intimate relationships with people other than the primary partner or spouse.

But do open relationships offer any advantages or are they just a way to satisfy your physical desires? Let’s find out!

Advantages of Open Relationships

If anyone told you that open relationships are not healthy or they are only for fickle-minded people, then enlighten yourself with these facts…

1. You get to explore

Some people always seek something new in their life. The same thing or the same person may bore the hell outta you.

Open relationships allow you to see new faces and learn new things about your partner. 

Eventually, you learn each other’s good parts when you subconsciously compare them to others. These feelings lead to a stronger bond.

2. You attain sexual satisfaction

If you have limitless sexual energy, one partner might not be able to satisfy all sides of your sexual desires.

Perhaps you want to try different positions, or you want to increase the frequency of sexual activities, but your primary partner doesn’t feel the same.

Rather than suppressing your sexual energy and expressing it in the form of negativity, an open relationship helps you satisfy your desires without disturbing your primary relationship.

3. You learn compersion

Did you ever find happiness from others’ happiness? Well, that’s how you define compersion.

If another’s happiness satisfies you, then your partner’s happiness from sexual satisfaction will also satisfy you. You won’t feel sexual satisfaction but an emotional one.

Even if you didn’t ever feel compersion, there’s a high chance you may learn it after opening your relationship to more adventurous experiences.  

4. You learn a lot of basic skills

After opening your relationship, you’ll learn to indulge in honest communication with your partner without hiding anything from each other.

You’ll always feel at ease if you know your partner will stay truthful to you and never hide anything because of your disapproval. So, you’ll defy trust issues and jealousy.

You also learn problem-solving skills and maintain boundaries during the process to keep your main relationship free from drama.

Find and learn about the real you with open relationships and eventually be honest about your feelings.

5. Your relationship won’t seem a burden to you

In a monogamous relationship, romantic partners are bound to satisfy each other emotionally, mentally, and sexually, because who else will?

Well, everyone can’t hold the same thoughts and that’s fine.

If you like more space than others (because you’re unique), you can’t possibly always tend to your partner’s needs.

If you lead an open relationship, you won’t feel guilty of depriving your partner of some needs, or pressured because you must satisfy them.

Though open relationships look far healthier than monogamy, there are also some downsides to it, including…

Disadvantages of Open Relationships

Like all other relationships, open relationships also have some disadvantages. Let me introduce you to some of them.

1. You might intensify old issues

If you are a possessive person from childhood, or you became one because you only believe in monogamous relationships, it might worsen your jealousy issues.

Also, if you suffer from low confidence, questions like “Am I not enough for them?” or “How am I any less?” are bound to arise in your mind which will further worsen your confidence.

You might also question your capabilities to satisfy your partner and fall into depression.

2. Your negativity may impact multiple people

If you have pre-existing issues, your mood swings will be obvious to your partner and that will disturb them and your secondary relationship too.

Say, you tend to be a cranky person, then you’ll always say “I’m alright” even though both of you know, you aren’t.

Your psychological state will automatically disturb theirs and they will emotionally distance themselves from you.

3. You’ll destroy an unripe relationship

If the foundation of your primary relationship is shaky from the beginning, you’ll aggravate the situation.

Instead of finding happiness and freedom in your own way while staying in the relationship, your primary relationship will slowly crumble because of trust issues and discontentment with each other.

So, this open relationship concept may also lead to a breakup if you don’t have a strong bond.

4. You’ll face physical risks

You can get sexually transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancy from unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners.

So, open relationships always require safe sex practices like using condoms, dental dams, birth controls, and regular diagnosis of your STI status.

Also, if you’re not careful enough about your secondary partner’s STI status, you run the risk of spreading it to your primary partner and their secondary partners.

5. You might affect your libido

Open relationships are mainly about sexual relationships to satisfy your brimming desires. However, you might affect your libido in two ways.

You might become a sex addict and even make your primary relationships only about sex, which will hamper your emotional and romantic bonding with your primary partner.

Or, you might deplete your sexual energy as you encounter too many partners and grow an indifference towards sex, which might also impact your primary relationship.

Now that you know both advantages and disadvantages, let me summarize it for you.

Pros and Cons of Open Relationships

Check out these pointers for a quick review of both sides of the coin…

1. You’ll identify yourself and your sexual needs from a different aspect.2. You’ll satisfy your sexual desires and fantasies, which your partner possibly can’t.3. You’ll learn to be happy with others’ happiness.4. You’ll learn honesty, openness, and be truthful to your relationship.5. Nobody will pressure you with emotional or physical needs when you’re not ready.1. You might aggravate some emotional or psychological issues like jealousy and low confidence.2. Your mood swings or dissatisfaction will impact your partner’s and their partners’ happiness3. If either of you two is dishonest about your feelings, you’ll end the primary relationship.4. You might get STIs or get pregnant if you’re not careful.5. You might become a sex addict or lose libido.

But before you think about talking with your partner, find out…

Is an Open Relationship Right for you?

You can’t easily identify whether you’re translating into an open relationship because honesty isn’t a common virtue and also, human beings don’t understand their feelings well.

So, let me help you do that. I’ve compiled a few signs that will help you find if you’re really meant for open relationships.

1. You experienced something similar in teenage years

You thought or others told you that fluctuating hormones and adolescence mystify teenage years, and that’s how you reasoned your multiple flings back then.

However, if you feel the same in your adulthood, it isn’t about your hormones.  You are someone who believes in non-monogamy from the beginning.

It’s your innate nature and if your situation permits, indulge in it.

2. You feel it keeps your relationship fresh

Perhaps, you always saw monogamy like a cage. You think marriages are a sham where people only “stay true and loyal to each other” only because society dictates them, not because they want to.

Or, you grew up with one parent oppressing the other where they were on each other’s neck.

You might be into non-monogamy if you think it can save your relationship from boredom and oppression.

3. You both are curious about non-monogamy

If you and your partner have a curious mind and are discussing non-monogamy for a while, then you both might want it but aren’t sure if you must.

Relationships aren’t so easy to crack, so if you have justifiable reasons why you both must try it – go for it.

Remember, that you can always come back to monogamy if the rules don’t play by you.

4. You both have distinct sexual desires

Do you have a higher libido than your partner? Or, your partner isn’t open to your adventurous side in bed?

If so, the adventurer (you) in bed is probably not satisfied. This may lead to disappointment and agony.

Your partner will start worrying that they will ruin the relationship if they don’t satisfy you. They’ll feel at the edge all the time. Consider an open relationship to sustain your relationship.

5. You both are pretty honest

At the end of the day, how open are you guys? Do you share everything significant that happened throughout the day or week? Or do you hold back something for privacy?

When something goes wrong, do you both accept it honestly or do you make excuses and try to bail out of the situation?

If you guys can stay honest with your feelings at any moment of your life, no matter the situation, you can try opening your relationship.

6. You both communicate well

When you both disagree, how do you plan your way out of it?

Some people like extending the topic with all the negative and unpleasant things they encountered together and blame it on each other like “You always upset me, remember last time you did…. Yet I still forgave you!”

If you guys never play the blame game and talk things out like civilized humans, that’s quite cool. Because you need to communicate in non-monogamous relationships.

7. You accept jealousy with open arms

When your partner checks out someone else, how do you feel?

Do you bring up the subject weeks later in your disagreement like “I know you’re always looking for others because you’re a w***re”, or “Give me more attention than anyone else!”

Do you wait until your jealousy transforms into something more intense and express it afterward? Then you can’t work with open relationships.

However, if you get jealous, and you’re honest about it, that’s a great sign.

8. Are you both on the same page of the relationship?

Do you want to plan a family in the future? Then what do you want to do about your open relationships? When do you think you will disclose to your children these facts? How will you protect your children from the gossiping world?

If you have more questions, but can’t find the answer to all of them, read up more on open relationships and research what you want.

Sign up in non-monogamous communities and know about their struggles to decide if you’re ready.

If you find that you want an open relationship, you may want to know…

How to bring it up with your partner?

A discussion about open relationships may not go easy on your partner. These tactful tips will help you dodge any kind of arguments or misunderstandings.

1. Make it all about you

Relationships are fragile because human beings are territorial. Possibly you got jealous over your mother encouraging another child too, that’s another natural reaction.

Similarly, your partner might be possessive about you, so don’t even unintentionally hurt them with “Your sexual desires are far lower than mine.”

Rather say “I read up about open relationships, I think I want to try that”.

Notice how you diminished the emotional blow? Work on that…

2. Don’t play the con artist

Before you disclose the situation to your partner, remember that you don’t want to force them or talk them into it. 

So, never attack them with the “benefits” to change their mind, unless they ask you.

If your partner feels unsure or says “I don’t know how to feel about it”, that’s the common reaction. Don’t expect too much from them at the first shot.

3. Share some intel

Your partner might ask you about open relationships and what their position will be once you see someone else.

Read up about open relationships enough so that you can answer them honestly. If you’re not sure about some question they asked, stay truthful.

Never pretend to know everything, and suggest learning about it together. Research together in your leisure time to show that they matter to you equally.

4. Tackle the space cleverly

Your partner might distance themselves or take some time apart to review your relationship. 

During this phase, don’t do anything that’ll make them wary about your intentions.

Though your partner might not give you attention, that’s all a pretense. They might test your honesty and loyalty during this time.

Give enough attention to their needs but don’t try popping their distancing bubble. Let them be, but also pamper them with the slightest gestures.

5. Take rejections sportingly

If your partner completely rejects the thought of sex with other people, don’t get angry.

At this point, you can try convincing them with the facts about open relationships along with the rules and boundaries.

Explain how it won’t disturb your relationship and that they’ll still be your everything.

Even if your partner holds against the idea, understand that you two are not compatible. Perhaps, they’re a strong believer in monogamy and you aren’t.

Instead of forcing each other into this unhappy relationship, choose what you want more: a non-monogamy relationship or this person.  

However, if your partner agrees, they’ll bombard you with more questions like…

How do open relationships work?

Open relationships work on the terms of the primary and secondary partners. You must find your normal and define some clear rules and boundaries to abide by.

As you didn’t find one definite definition of open relationships, the working is quite versatile too.

Your open relationship will work on what you and your primary partner want, what you don’t want, how much you want to explore, and your exclusiveness to each other.

There are several books about open relationships (discussed later in this article) that help you to learn how you must and mustn’t work your open relationship.

But basically, you open your relationship to explore your sexual desires, fulfill your sexual satisfaction and find a way out of your mismatching sexual energy together.

You can build an open relationship where you let your primary partner and secondary partner(s) know about each other’s presence, STI status and continue your life.

Or, you can let each other know more about your partners so that you don’t feel you’re straying apart and feel comfortable in one another’s company.

It all drizzles down to your comfort zone and your compatibility. Also, in long-term primary relationships, you’ll find that you’ll need much fewer rules and will easily go along the flow.

If you’re both new to this, build your unique…

Open relationship rules

Before you open your relationship, build some clear ground rules to avoid misunderstandings like…

1. Enlist the dos and don’ts for each other

Whether you want to allow your partner to fall in love with others or not, or you want to keep something exclusive about your relationship, write it all down.

Make a  raw agreement with honesty about how much you want to share your partners with others and how much you want to keep them to yourselves.

Your partner might not agree to everything so communicate well about it.

2. Write down your desires

What are your desires from your secondary partner? How much do you want to explore and what desires do you exactly want to satisfy outside the relationship… write everything on paper.

Your partner might be unaware of your kinks, so they can’t say whether they like it or not. Write down your honest desires and be open to each other’s thoughts about them.

3. Prioritize protection

Once you know each other sexual activities and desires, decide on the types of protection you’ll use and want your partner to use outside your relationship.

Inform each other about your protection against STIs. Perhaps you don’t want them to exchange any bodily fluids with the other partners at all.

Include it in your agreement clearly and don’t let any misunderstanding take place because you assumed it’s a given.

4. Don’t choose a partner for your partner

If you feel comfortable, then introduce your secondary partners to each other. It’s fine if you don’t want to and only prefer keeping tabs on the secondary partners’ STI status.

Once you open your relationship, don’t “choose” a partner for your partner. You both are unique and have unique choices, so accept each other’s choice about the new partners.

Trust each other to choose the best for yourselves.

5. Don’t dictate the partners

Even if your partner’s partner is your archenemy, don’t tell them what they must and mustn’t do. That’s your partner’s job and if you cross the line, you might spoil your primary relationship.

Your partner is responsible enough to enlighten them about the rules.

However, if your partner brings them to you and wants to go through the rules with you, to ensure all parties feel safe about it, put forward your thoughts.

6. Brush up on your rules

Both of your feelings will change and at some point, either of you might want to close the relationship. Don’t keep each other in the dark about your feelings, else you’ll resent each other.

Instead make a chart where you put down your activities with the secondary partners and keep checkboxes for “cool, not cool, and don’t care”.

Fill them out every month to ensure you’re on the same page.

7. Respect the partner of your partner

Your partner’s secondary partner is also in it for the sexual relationship. They might feel like they want to try out something new with your primary partner but can’t because your agreement doesn’t allow it.

Let them communicate to find out a reasonable solution or middle-ground on this matter.

You’ll work out something for this if you talk it through, whatever the result may be, don’t feel resentful towards them.

8. Spend exclusive time

Everyone might not be broadminded and that’s what makes us humans. 

You and your partner both must spend time with each other and assure each other that your relationship is still alright.

Make your partner feel safe and comfortable with your open relationship and spend more special moments with each other.

Remind each other that in the end, you are there for them.

9. Consider the other side

Your relationship is unique, so if you feel it doesn’t need any hard-core rules, then be it so. Choose what’s most appropriate for your relationship.

Also, if you and your partner think the rules don’t work, either throw them out of your mind or shift to more lenient rules.

Stick to rules that don’t hurt each other’s desires.

If rules aren’t your thing, you might want to establish some…

Open Relationship Boundaries

Though your relationship’s flexibility depends on you two, you can still establish boundaries and find your comfort. Boundaries aren’t as strict as rules but still help you build some ground before making the jump.

Emotional Boundaries

Your emotional boundaries matter… as much as your physical boundaries. So, start the conversation about boundaries from here.

1. Jot down jealousy triggers

What exactly makes you jealous? Other than monopolizing your partner, what do you want them to keep exclusive to yourselves?

Perhaps, you love how they hold your face and can’t imagine them doing that to another. Or, you want to keep a sex position exclusive to yourselves.

2. How will you handle jealousy?

When you’re jealous, how will you confront your feelings? Choose something that doesn’t hurt you, your partner, or their partner.

Your safest bet is honesty and clearly discussing what you need to get rid of your jealousy.

3. What do you expect from your partner?

Once you’re jealous about something and confront it, what do you want from them? Do you want them to spend time with you? Or, do you need more space?

You must state it clearly to avoid emotional pain on either side.

4. What if you fall in love?

You can’t restrict yourself to never falling in love with someone. So, even if you promise that, how will you express or receive love so that your partner doesn’t hurt?

How must you address your or secondary partners in public? How much do you care about labeling relationships?

Next, think about…

Physical Boundaries

Now that you’re on the same page about emotional boundaries, it’s time to discuss some physical ones.

1. Note the permissible PDA

Although open relationships are around for a long time, the world still looks down on them. So, how much PDA can you guys show to your secondary partners?

Kissing, hugging, holding arms, which is okay and which is not, decide on it.

You have more reasons to check if you have children and don’t want random people to trash-talk you.

2. Who can be your partner?

Can you guys get down with your ex? Friends, colleagues, or strangers? Are you comfortable with all of them or do you think something won’t work?

3. What sexuality will you exhibit?

Will you exhibit your same sexual orientation, or will you guys change your gender identity? Rather than a restricting boundary, this is simple information you must have about each other.

4. Which location do you prefer?

Are you okay with indulging in different sexual relationships under the same roof? Or, do you guys want to keep it outside your home?

If you have children, it’s better to not take your partners home yet.

Lastly, decide the…

Sexual Boundaries

Determine what’s okay and not-okay in bed with the following points…

1. Note off-limits sexual activities

If you won’t or will indulge in some type of sex (anal, bondage, oral; etc.), note them down. Is multiple partners at a time your thing?

You both are also free to add any new activity in your part of the agreement whenever you feel like it.

2. Clearly discuss safe sex practices

What kinds of contraception will you include in your open relationships? Will you use female condoms and male condoms both? Where will you store your condoms?

What kind of lube do you prefer? (Oil can damage latex condoms).

Research well about it for each other’s safety.

3. Specify the toy usage

Will you have your exclusive toys or will you share your toys with your partners? How will you clean your toys? Find the best way to reduce any chances of STI.

4. How often do you want to get check-ups?

How frequently must all of you check your STI status? What other tests do you want to run? Clearly state that and perhaps choose a date when you all get a test.

Bonus: You guys can hang out together and check in on each other on that day.

People often judge open relationships, so you must know…

How to help your loved ones understand open relationships?

Your choice about open relationships can be a tricky conversation with your loved ones. Sit with your partner(s) and devise a sensible plan to disclose it to them.

Your life’s horizon is far beyond your primary or secondary partners because sex isn’t the only thing in your life.

You have your parents, siblings, friends, children, and so on. So plan to let your loved ones in on your secret.

Although it’s your life, your body, and your choice, many people have a hard time accepting that their friend or their child is doing something ethical but unethical according to them.

However, the less you hide your open relationship, the less time everyone takes to accept it.

If you keep it under covers and they find it out themselves, they’ll think you involved yourself in something shameful or indecent.

As they are your loved ones, even if they’re open to the idea, they might feel hurt because you didn’t trust them enough to disclose it. Or, you’ll feel hurt if they diss you.

Sit together with your partner(s) and decide how you want to share the news and who’ll know.

Perhaps, strike up a convo about open relationships and know who’s open to the idea. 

However, to know if your open relationship is working properly, here are some…

Signs that an open relationship is a Problem

Open relationships aren’t for everyone, so when you notice any of these, re-think your arrangement…

1. You guys can’t handle jealousy

If you both react negatively to jealousy instead of communicating your feelings, your open relationship can’t work out.

You both must be equally open about sharing your partners with others. If you’re extremely possessive, you can’t share. Even if you share, you’ll emotionally torture yourself.

In the end, you might break up.

2. One of you disapproves

You might come clean about your desires yet your partner might not want you to involve in other sexual relationships.

If you still do, that’s non-consensual non-monogamy, which will be a great problem.

Even though you’re not cheating, you’ll emotionally hurt your partner when you go against their wishes.

3. You guys are at each other’s neck

If you feel your secondary partner(s) are much better, and can’t appreciate your primary partner’s qualities, you’ll get in many fights unnecessarily.

Everything your partner does will seem like a nuisance.

Or, if you bring your issues about your secondary partners to your main relationship, and fight with each other, that’s bad news too.

4. You can’t be honest

If you hide anything from your primary partner, that implies you did something which you mustn’t.

Understand that hiding is no solution. Instead communicate about what you want, else your partner will misunderstand the situation.

Don’t forget that strong open relationships require honesty

5. You guys’ cross boundaries

You guys set boundaries and opened your relationship because you trust each other.

If you cross boundaries, you’ll endanger your relationship, each other’s trust and even endanger each other with STIs.

If you want some real-life inspo, here are some…

Celebrities in an Open Relationship

These celebs found more satisfaction and freedom in open relationships than monogamy…

1. Shailene Woodley

She experienced both open and monogamous relationships and she disclosed that it depends on the individuals in a relationship, not the world.

2. Megan Fox – Brian Austin Green

This couple indulged in a partial open relationship where Megan Fox had multiple partners outside her marriage. Her husband believed in setting her free wherever her soul desires.

3. Ashton Kutcher – Demi Moore

This separated couple was quite open about their open relationship to their industry yet kept it away from the public because of obvious reasons. Their boundaries are commendable for hiding it from the public.

4. Gwyneth Paltrow – Chris Martin

This couple allegedly led an open relationship during their married years and Gwyneth never cared if her husband made the headlines for playing around. She prefers leading life on her own terms.

5. Brad Pitt – Angelina Jolie

The iconic couple enjoyed an open relationship during their marriage because they possessed common thoughts about independence. They believe they don’t need to chain or restrict each other’s lives.

Open relationships made their way to entertainment too, like…

TV shows and Movies on Open Relationship

If monogamous shows bore you, here’s something to suit your taste…

1. Jules and Jim (1962)

A romance tragedy about Jules, Jim, and Jim’s wife Catherine. This movie teaches you that sometimes, freedom is a better option than caging a carefree heart to destruction.

2. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)

This movie teaches us how honesty is more valuable than fidelity. The lead characters learn mutual respect and love and decide to open their relationship and trade partners.

3. Summer Lovers (1982)

A couple learns that love knows no bounds when they meet a girl in Greece. Though the woman in the couple was initially against the idea, they both fell in love with this new woman.

4. Sex/Life (2021-)

A show about a married mother of two who won’t leave her husband, but also wants her childhood lover. She’s on a journey to self-discovery.

5. The Danish Girl (2015)

A TV show about a married woman teaching her husband that he is free to live his real self as a transgender. They also face the society heads-on for this evolution.

If you’re more into fiction, then you may want to read a few books about open relationships.

Books on Open Relationship

If you want to find inspo in paperbacks, read on…

1. Next Year, For Sure (Zoey Leigh Peterson)

A wife encourages her husband to pursue relationships beyond their marriage for one year and leads a more honest life with new endeavors together.

2. Luster (Raven Leilani)

A painter, in a relationship with a man in an open marriage, helps her partner’s traumatized child. This story shows that sexual relationships don’t define your capabilities.

3. Last Couple Standing (Matthew Norman)

A couple witnesses all of their friends getting divorced and decide to open their relationship so they don’t do the same. They experiment with non-monogamy with their unique boundaries.

4. Neotenica (Joon Oluchi Lee)

A story about an open couple who learn to love, engage with multiple partners, and accept the world as it is yet lead a loving relationship.

5. Vanishing Twins: A Marriage (Leah Dieterich)

A young woman who lost her twin to fetal vanishing syndrome marries someone emotionally identical to fill her gap, but tires out. The is her journey to open relationships and bisexuality.

However, fiction won’t answer all of your queries, so let me help you with that.


If you still haven’t found your answers yet, you might as well now…

1. Who chooses an open relationship?

Ethical or not, consensually non-monogamous relationships never got any respect from the majority of the world.

Similarly, open relationships experience a lot of heat, so couples who engage in it, hide it from the world.

However, many researchers opine that 20% of the adults were in some kind of non-monogamy or open relationships in their life.

A survey found that approximately 3/10 women and 4/10 men support non-monogamy.
They also found that they got more positive responses from the younger generation than the older ones.

Also, with the advancing age, “non-monogamy is in the rage” or you can say people are more open about their choices as the world becomes less judgmental about non-monogamous lifestyles.

Moreover, more people find their way out to open relationships with its popularity in the media.

2. How often should you check in with your primary partner about boundaries?

The frequency of your check-ins with your primary partner’s relationships about boundaries depends on your relationship.

Perhaps you want to know the exact gap between every check-in? You can start with every two weeks. Or, if you’re in a long-term relationship and trust each other, once a month will work fine as well.

In reality, you don’t need strict gaps for check-ins, but you definitely don’t want to make it too frequent… so much so that it looks like an intrusion.

If you both value your morals, neither of you will cross any boundaries. However, whenever you check in about boundaries, either or both of you might have new thoughts on the boundaries. 

Embrace each other’s thoughts honestly to avoid any confusion.

3. How do you bring your relationship status with a potential secondary partner?

If you find you’re clicking with someone around you (who isn’t your primary partner) sexually, or romantically, disclose your relationship status to them before hitting off.

Why? You don’t want the accusation of leading them on.

Also, some people aren’t just into it and you can’t help that. Perhaps, they aren’t against non-monogamy, but they are strictly monogamous themselves.

If you’re looking for a date online, put “in an open relationship” in your profile to avoid confusion and attract interested people.

For face-to-face conversations, say something like
“I wanted to let you know Monogamy isn’t my thing. And I’m in an open relationship right now. I already have a permanent partner and am only interested in casual dates.”


“Do you understand non-monogamy? You and your date can date more than one person simultaneously. I’m into that, what do you feel about that?”

4. Does it matter if your secondary partner is monogamous or polyamorous?

It doesn’t matter at all.
Whether your secondary partner is dating you alone or dating multiple people, it won’t impact your primary relationship.

They will swing as they prefer depending on their appetite for sex, their gender identity, their interest, and other relative factors.

Your secondary partner might be monogamous and that’s their business. 

However, don’t forget to disclose the fact that you’ll date casually, you have a primary partner, and that you also have or might have multiple partners in the future.

Clearly state that you won’t dispose of your primary relationship for a second one because they’ll exclusively date you.

Come off clean with this fact before involving anyone and let them choose if they want it.

5. Should you check in with your secondary partner?

Your open relationship is all about satisfying your and your partners’ sexual energy. You must ensure whether your secondary partners are having fun with you or not.

If you need, you can spice things up after discussing their needs and the boundaries. You might casually wire up or you might emotionally bond, that doesn’t mean it impacts your communication.

Your honest communication will encourage them to express their desires in the long run.

If you value their choices with communication, they’ll feel comfortable and appreciated as human beings. Your sexual relationships will also see an uprise if you do regular check-ins with your partner.

But whether you want to make it a serious meeting to discuss it or you want a casual one that’s up to you.

6. What if you fall in love with someone else?

Well, do monogamous people not fall in love with others?

Sure they do, what else do you think is “falling out of love”?

Moreover, people in open relationships already understand what others have in their package, which results in lower chances of falling in love with others.

Why? Because nobody’s got it better and every one comes with their unique emotional baggage. When you already dealt with one person’s emotions, you don’t need anymore.

However, monogamous people don’t know what the other person has in stock for them.

Since they can’t quench their thirst for exploration, they tend to fall in love with others quickly. Because that person is far more interesting and understanding than my present partner.

7. Do people in Open Relationships get jealous?

Yes, everyone does. But you’ll find your answer if you compare.

In monogamy, you can’t be honest about how another person outside your exclusive relationship attracts you. 

Even if you do or if you flirt back with someone else, you’ll find yourself amidst a pool of misunderstandings.

Why? Because monogamous couples never communicate about these taboos. You’ll always stay at the edge about who your partner talks with and who attracts them.

In open relationships, your honest communication helps you understand how precious you’re to each other and develop great problem-solving skills together.

Also, you don’t think you own each other but your partner desires you beyond bounds.

Doesn’t that melt your heart?
That’s why, jealousy in open communication plays together with honesty, so it doesn’t disturb the romantic partners of the primary relationship.

8. Are open relationships healthy?

A relationship is healthy when you love each other not exclusively, but truly.

Both open relationships and monogamy primarily revolve around two people. If they are truthful, kind, and loving to each other, what can go wrong?

You can’t figure out the health status of an open relationship unless you know their intentions towards one another.

If you force an open relationship on your partner or you don’t disclose crucial details to each other, your open relationship is unhealthy.

You build an open relationship on trust and communication, so as long as you cherish those, it’s healthy.

However, people in open relationships receive more sexual satisfaction which is another reason behind their healthy relationships.

9. Do open relationships work?

A study from the University of Rochester, from about 1650 online questionnaires, found that monogamous relationships and both-sided open relationships work much better than one-sided open relationships.

Both groups lead equally healthy relationships with very low amounts of loneliness or mental grief.

However, people in consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships found much more sexual satisfaction; whereas monogamous couples lead a fairly simple sexual life with low desires.

They also found that both-sided CNM is more common in long-term relationships, whereas new relationships were mostly one-sided CNM.

One-sided CNM partners didn’t dedicate themselves much to their primary relationships.

They hardly attained sexual gratification and didn’t follow safe sex practices much. This implies that one-sided CNM can be hard to work with.

6 out of 10 one-sided CNM couples were dissatisfied with their relationships and had a hard time bonding emotionally.

So, both-sided open relationships work much better than one-sided open relationships.

10. How common are open Relationships?

In North America, one out of every 25 couples engages in CNM, which is approximately three million couples in the US.

From an online survey, they found about 80 out of 2000 Canadians engage in CNM relationships.

Research from Indiana University proved that 1/10 women and 2/10 men among American adults engaged in a threesome at least once.

Another Indiana research shows that from a group of 8700 US adults, 1 out of 5 involved in CNM once.

Researchers from Temple University found that approx. 90 out of 2270 American adults follow CNM.

Canadian research found that young adults are more into CNM relationships.

Both CNM and monogamous Canadian individuals report equal relationship satisfaction.

However, when it comes to couples, couples with both CNM partners find more satisfaction in their relationship.

So, although low now, open relationships are increasing slowly.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Your relationship is unique and not a theory out of a textbook.

Before you open your relationship to more sexual or romantic partners, understand your relationship’s current status, both of your needs, expectations, and thoughts about open relationships.

Also, understand that many people won’t readily accept your open relationship. If others’ thoughts matter to you, you may want to take a step back.

If you label them immature, or non-compassionate, how will it be different from them calling you commitment-phobic or sex-addict?

As long as you are content with how you live your life with honesty, freedom, and joy, that’s all that matters.