10 Myths About Open Relationships That Aren’t True

Open relationships are not for everyone. The concept itself might sound ideal, in a way: having a steady partner who’s always there and also getting to experience other hookups on the side without consequence is basically the definition of having your cake and eating it too. But the execution? It’s difficult, and it’s not what we’re used to here in the good ole’ U S of A. Our society’s high value on monogamy is one of the reasons it feels so weird – and it’s also a big reason that there are so many myths about open relationships floating around out there. Disproving those myths is important, because while the idea might not work for a lot of people, it does work for some. And those in an open relationship don’t deserve the judgement that comes along with these false ideas.

Plenty of happy, healthy, loving couples are in open relationships and are all the better for it. Monogamy is not for everyone! This has proven itself to be true in the sheer amount of divorces out there. Open relationships acknowledge that not all needs can be met by one partner in a relationship, and that trying to be and do everything could put a lot of strain and stress on somebody. It totally works for some people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead of making fun of them, let’s try to understand them better – because who knows, it could be good for you too! These are 10 myths about open relationships that are actually not true at all.


It's The Same Thing As Polyamory or Polygamy

Polyamory describes when more than two people are in a relationship together. They are all in love with each other and are equally committed to making their polyamorous relationship work. Polygamy refers to more of a religious tradition of multiple marriages, and typically refers to a man having multiple wives. An open relationship is not either of those things. An open relationship is when a couple agrees that while they are dedicated to making it work, they are allowed to stay open to and pursue other people they might be attracted to. The Venn diagram between the two might be potentially having a threesome or having all partners meet, but not necessarily go on a date as a three-some (because that's polyamory, not an open relationship). The lines can get blurry, but let's be clear: these are three separate things.

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It's Just Consensual Cheating

Well, for starters, it's not cheating if you know what's going on and you're cool with it. Also, let's just talk about the word "cheating." You aren't stealing away from your primary partner and forming a secretive relationship with another person. Sure, your main bae might not have anything to do with your other relationship, but it isn't under wraps where you give of yourself to this new person the way you don't with your other partner. Part of what makes open relationships successful is that you recognize that one person can't be everything to one person and that our capacity to give is limited. So, you aren't "cheating" your partner of anything because you aren't witholding anything, you're just sharing it with someone else. Spread the love!

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Open Relationships Directly Lead To Break Ups

Admittedly, I know someone who broke up with his girlfriend after they attempted an open relationship, but this is by and large because that was not their original understanding in place from the beginning of their relationship. It's also worth noting that open relationships aren't for everybody! That's fine. Monogamy works amazingly for a ton of people. If an open relationship gives you pause, maybe don't try it. It could drive you and bae apart. However, if you're into it, there's no reason or evidence of open relationships driving you apart. With the possibility of romance maybe being just around the corner *and* having a relationship at the same time - it could actually wind up bringing you closer together!

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You Only Have Other Partners To Have Sex With Them

An open relationship is not just about having a steady partner, and then hooking up with other people on the side. Your other partner could just be someone you connect with emotionally, someone you can talk to and go on dates with. Sex is an awesome perk, but other awesome perks include things like love, quality time, and implicit trust. To say something's only benefit is sex is reductive. Maybe a "just sex" arrangement is something you'd like to discuss with your main person, but you can still have an open relationship and enjoy all of the benefits of being in a relationship with someone else. Or a few other people. Who knows? The world is a big place!

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Open Relationships Are Only For Queer People

Straight people can be in open relationships, too. This myth comes from the homophobic misconception that queer people are more implicitly promiscuous than heterosexual people and that's totally false. For the record, queer people can prefer monogamy. Everybody is different. Dismissing open relationships as only a queer thing makes open relationships more of a dirty, alternate thing to do and further pushes queer love to the sidelines as weird and other. This myth hurts everybody. Sure, your bi partner might want to date someone who isn't the gender that you are as well as you, but that has more to do with them wanting an open relationship than their bisexuality. Do you see the difference?

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It's Only For Promiscuous People

One more time with feeling: open relationships aren't for horny degenerates who hate being in relationships. Quite the opposite! If you love love and love being in a relationship with someone, by all means, multiply that a few times. There are reasons to consider an open relationship that go beyond the potential to have sex with more than one person. The motivation to have an open relationship isn't all tied up in sex and that doesn't automatically make people in open relationships somehow "slutty" or worse off than people in monogamous relationships. Also, can we stop saying promoscuous like it's a bad thing? If you want to, get yours. So done with this slut shaming.

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Open Relationships Mean You Can Hook Up With Whoever You Want

OG partners can have veto power! As used in a hypothetical: don't hook up with my ex, that person we both know, that person from your job, or this person I fundamentally hate. It's not a one size fits all love-and-sex pass to be used at will. Couples can set their own rules and boundaries. If you're going to be in an open relationship, part of opening it is being secure enough in your primary relationship to begin with and part of that involves having enough common sense to know what your person is and isn't okay with and communicating openly and honestly with them. Use your brain power and pursue people you're genuinely attracted to. You can totally do both, just know that you probably aren't cleared to hook up with literally anybody and everybody you want.

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It's For People Who Are Afraid Of Commitment

You don't open a relationship because you're unhappy with the one you're in and you're just looking for an easy out. It's not about people in open relationships who aren't able to commit to one person so they commit to more than one person. The ability that you're able to commit and invest yourself in a relationship is not contingent on your liking or disliking monogamy. Commitment and having a singular partner are not one in the same. I know this might seem weird or unbelievable, but you can still be fully committed to your main relationship and be totally in love with someone else AND have all of them be okay with it. WHAT?!

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It's Not Practical In The Long Run

The thing about open relationships is that they can turn into open marriages. You can continue your relationship with your primary partner and have multiple relationships come into your life and fade out while remaining consistently with one person. What's the alternative? Being in an open relationship, but only for six months? Somehow that makes less sense than thinking open relationships aren't realistic in the long run because they are. People in open relationships can also become exlusive after a while, but to say that they designed to fail from the get go is actually full on mean.

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You Can't Be In Love With More Than One Person

With any other relationship, we don't view love as a finite resource: you love all of your pets, parents love all of their children, plenty of people have more than one best friend, yet somehow when it comes to romantic and sexual relationships, everybody gets automatically very stingy like love is a scarce resource. Forgive me if I sound like a hippie, but love is an expading thing. It doesn't get tarnished or diminished if you love more than one person. Your love isn't tainted if it isn't exlusive. No shame if you're only dedicated to one person, but that's no reason to shame people in open relationships like their love, or loves, are any less legitimate.

Source: iStock

Are you in an open relationship? Would you consider being in one? Or are you monogamy only? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.


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