The Pros and Cons of Open Relationships

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Being in an open relationship is very a mixed blessing. While in some respects it is the perfect solution for those of us who want to be in a steady relationship but are afraid of commitment, it can also be a very painful experience that causes us to feel a range of emotions not all of which are good.

There is no easy answer regarding whether or not you will be happy in an open relationship and that will depend very much on you, your partner and your situation. However what is certain is that you need to know what you’re letting yourself in for before you get started. Here then we will look at the pros and cons of open relationships so that you can make a balanced and informed decision about whether it’s right for you.

The Pros

You Get to Be With Other People

Before we come onto anything else, it would be remiss not to mention the very simple fact that being in an open relationship means you get to be with other people and aren’t limited to just one person. This is of course the reason that many people get into an open relationship in the first place and it gives you a far greater amount of freedom. If you have ever been in a relationship and have looked at someone else who has caught your eye, then you will know that it can sometimes be frustrating not to be able to act on it. Even worse is when you’re out on your own and someone you are incredibly attracted to starts to chat you up and actually starts making moves on you… before you have to say ‘sorry I’m in a relationship’.

In an open relationship however you get to experience every opportunity that comes your way, you get to act on your desires and you never go home feeling that pang of regret.

More Varied Sex

One of the reasons that the previous point is so important is the sex. Plain and simple it means you get more varied and exciting sex and with more people.

You Don’t Miss Out

The other reason it’s so important though is that you won’t end up missing out on an opportunity that might have been ‘once in a life time’. You for instance won’t miss that opportunity to skinny dip with two girls or guys in Switzerland – or to play strip poker with a sexy older person, but more importantly you won’t miss out on meeting someone who might have been even better suited to you than your current partner.

It’s Casual

Being in an open relationship is by definition a casual affair and it means that you aren’t going to feel too tied down or pressured in any way. If you are someone who runs at the first sign of commitment then this might be for you, and if you are someone who isn’t ready to settle down, or who likes having a lot of time to themselves, then this can be a good way to achieve those things as well.

You Don’t Get Bored

That’s either of you. Because you are getting a more varied sex life and seeing more people, this means that when you’re with your partner you feel more excitement and more freshness. This can help to prevent things from settling into that ‘familiar’ territory and keep things exciting a lot longer.

Some Competition Can Be Healthy?

And the other reason for this is that your partner will be aware that you’re having other offers. Even if being in an open relationship was their idea, then you can bet that they are going to ‘up their game’ as it were to make sure that you’re still their favourite. And that means no jogging bottoms at home and exciting passionate sex.

There’s No Guilt (In Theory)

Even the most loyal partners among us have moments when our eyes wander, or when we start looking at pictures of other people on Facebook. This can be a source of guilt, but if you’re in an open relationship then there’s no guilt. Or at least there shouldn’t be. That is to say, that if you don’t feel guilty, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. But we’ll come back to this point later…

The Cons

There Is Guilt

Of course the idea is that there is no guilt, because technically you can do what you like. However for the vast majority of us it’s very difficult not to feel guilty when we are sleeping with someone who is not our partner – or when we are telling our partner how much they mean to us and we remember what we were doing last night.

There’s Jealousy

You may or may not feel guilty and everyone is different in this regard. However there is a big chance that you are going to feel jealous when you see your partner with another person, or when you hear them talking about them. You’ll wonder whether maybe they had a better time with them, you’ll worry that they might leave you, and you’ll hate the idea of sharing. This is human nature whether or not you have any interest in a long term relationship.

The Other Kind of Competition

The competition that your partner feels with the other people in your life can be a positive thing as mentioned if it causes them to make sure to always put their all into your relationships. However there is also another kind of competition – the competition you have against each other. You see as soon as you allow each other to find alternative partners, you’ll discover that it quickly becomes a competition to see which of you has the most exciting and successful love life. You’ll end up both bragging about your extra curricula activity, and there is always the possibility of course that you could end up having no interest from the opposite sex while your partner has a string of successes – and this would be rather upsetting.

Diseases and Pregnancies

And then of course there is the slight problem of STI’s and pregnancy scares. While it is possible to be safe in an open relationship and to take safe sex seriously, no form of contraceptive is 100% effective and there is always the chance that something could go wrong. Of course this is dramatically increased if you have multiple sexual partners meaning that you could easily end up in trouble. And of course the idea of an accidental pregnancy is much worse when it isn’t with the partner that you want to spend the rest of your life with anyway.

Management and Time

On the one hand you might get more freedom from your ‘main’ partner if you are in an open relationship and you might find that you are more free in terms of time and less likely to get pestered. However at the same time if you have multiple partners then you might find that this negates those positives as that’s more people to call you and to get angry with you. Managing multiple relationships can be heavy going and arduous and you may find you can’t keep up.

Your Partner May Leave You

Of course if you are in an open relationship, no matter what might have been said in the beginning, your partner is considerably more likely to find someone else – because they’re allowed to look. That means that you’ve created a situation in which they are much more likely to leave you, and it means that you will probably be much more insecure in your relationship knowing this. Which isn’t pleasant for either party.

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Colleen Crawford

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