As with everything that tries to understand human diversity, there is no consensus when it comes to open relationships (or any other kind of relationship). But according to psychologists, it is “a mutual agreement of freedom that the couple has to physically engage with other people.”
And, for her, this is when the consensus about the theme starts to become more complex. “You can’t rule out the possibility that, in the middle of an open relationship, your partner becomes affectively interested in someone else because you create intimacy. It is important to understand that sex is intimacy, period,” she says.
Not by chance, the therapist cites as one of the possible problems for this type of relationship knowing how to deal not only with your own and your partner’s expectations, but also with those she calls “satellite people”, that is, the people with whom you will be involved outside the relationship.
What an open relationship is not
“In an open relationship there are relative commitments that are pre-established by the couple, always remembering that involvement with third parties is something that occurs physically speaking. In other words, both of them must agree on this and getting involved with other people must respect the routine of that couple,” clarifies the psychologist. Therefore, it is important to understand that this type of relationship must also have its rules, as will be seen later on.
For this very reason, therapists also do not corroborate another stereotype about the open relationship, which is the issue of detachment, since the parties still expect affective exclusivity. “The point is to think: ‘I can separate sex from affection,'” she says. Remembering that it is important that your partner, as well as the people with whom you will be involved, are also able to do this.
Those who have never searched for testimonials from people who are or have been in an open relationship may be surprised, for example, to find out that they feel jealousy. But they rely on communication and trust in each other to overcome the feeling.
And it is through the issue of jealousy that another widespread notion about open relationships comes in, which is that they are a way to spice up and save the monogamous relationship.
Why have an open relationship
Well, but if the open relationship also has rules, does not get rid of jealousy and does not serve to save the relationship for two, why on earth would you go into one?
Psychologist believes that, as long as it is decided in a healthy way between the couple, without impulsiveness, it can bring interesting benefits, such as a claim to individuality and empowerment.
“Being able to provide oneself sexual experiences with other people without having that feeling of guilt afterwards is an important fact, because there is no betrayal, fights may be less frequent because the feeling of freedom will be greater, and where there were charges and demands will take place a possible feeling of personal autonomy,”.
Both specialists, however, agree that, in the beginning or in the middle of the relationship, the important thing is to identify what is good for you. “There are 7 billion people in the world and, therefore, that same number of personalities. I don’t think it’s impossible. The important thing is to understand each person’s expectations and ask yourself if it works for you.
5 essential questions to make it work
“I believe that connoting rules, closed and immutable titles of how a relationship should be is not something healthy, because the human being has an incredible plurality and relationships can be a reflection of this too,” says Psychologist. Even because, not even the real meaning of “to get along” is as clear as it may seem.
Is it to stay together forever? Is it to grow and learn together with someone, regardless of whether everyone goes their own way eventually?
But just as closed relationships have some unspoken rules, an open relationship must also have rules to avoid suffering. The difference is that, in this kind of relationship, they must always be very well communicated.
Although the rules are unique to each couple, below you will find the main issues considered essential for the relationship to thrive:
1. Both must be in agreement
It seems pretty obvious in theory, but in practice, it is common for people to top things, not only an open relationship, in order to please or to win back the other. “Giving up what you want to meet the desire of the other is a recipe for disaster. In no instance in the relationship does this kind of thinking work.
2. Play fair with those involved
As said above, it is impossible to guarantee that the people you will get involved with also know how to separate sex from affection. But the least you can do is communicate with them so as not to create expectations.
3. Honesty between the parties
One of the positive points raised by those who have had a healthy open relationship is that, while talking about attraction and jealousy can be frowned upon in a closed relationship, in the open relationship it is important that you both be honest about it in order to deal with the issue together.
“Some people say, ‘I want to be in an open relationship, but I don’t care about anything.’ That person is not ready for an open relationship,”
4. Definition of the other people involved
The topic may sound a bit bureaucratic, but, even if you decide that there won’t be any restrictions in this sense, it is important to talk about it.
Even the decision to know or not with whom the other has had a relationship will depend on what is comfortable for each couple. As a reflection, She says that it is common that the rule is not to go out with people from both of their social lives. Not only because normally there is already some affection there, but also because this can cause embarrassment at some point.
5. Safe sex, always!
No need to explain, right? It is not because the relationship is open that it may be more exposed to sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy. Protection is essential to maintain the integrity not only of the couple, but of everyone involved.
It is worth pointing out that the issues raised above are not necessarily rules, but points to be thought about both individually and as a couple.
“What is legal and what is healthy is what is legal and what is healthy for each person. We love general rules, but, in fact, there are no such things, Armed with information, there is no one better than you to know what works in your relationship.