OPEN RELATIONSHIPS: A Comprehensive Guide [Updated]

An open relationship, also known as a non-exclusive relationship, is an intimate relationship that is sexually non-monogamous. People in open relationships are as happy and satisfied as those in monogamous relationships. However, it is completely natural to feel attracted to other people. An open relationship requires the agreement of everyone involved; hence, it is not infidelity or cheating. Therefore, marriage, dates, or any form of romantic relationship can be open depending on you and your partner. Open relationships, nonetheless, may not be exclusive. An open relationship can also be a polyamorous relationship, even though they are not similar.

What Is an Open Relationship?

Consensually non-monogamous relationships include open relationships as well. They’re relationships in which one or both individuals can pursue sex with other people, as well as emotional attachments.

Swinging, in which couples have sex with other people at parties, and the relationships are entirely sexual, is not the same as open relationships. They also differ from polyamory, allowing partners to be involved in multiple committed relationships simultaneously. Swinging and polyamory are generally incompatible; thus, open partnerships are typically a medium ground.

While swingers tend to limit their outside relationships to sex with other couples, and polyamory is all about having several loving partners, people in open partnerships can normally have sex with whomever they want as long as the other relationships are casual. To put it another way, you can have sex with anybody you want, but you are not seeking intimate, committed relationships with other people.

Who Chooses an Open Relationship?

Because non-monogamy still carries a stigma, not everyone is eager to disclose that they engage in open relationships, swinging, or polyamory. However, academic and non-profit research has given us an estimate of how many adults are involved in non-monogamous partnerships.

According to another poll, 31% of women and 38% of men would prefer a non-monogamous relationship. Younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to prefer non-monogamy.

If the number of non-monogamous relationships has increased over time, it could be for a variety of reasons, such as people being more open about the topic or more people being willing to attempt it. Both can benefit from open partnerships being less stigmatized in the media.

Is an Open Relationship Right for You?

Despite the widespread expectation that everyone will one day be in a monogamous relationship leading to marriage, some people have known since they were teenagers that they are not interested in monogamy. Others enter open relationships as a result of circumstances, such as an infatuation with a new person, or because a partner offers the opportunity.

A common scenario is when a couple that has been together for a few years is experiencing a loss of passion in their relationship. One or both partners develop feelings for another person, or one begins an affair. They decide to open up their relationship to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the ideal way to start a conversation. It is preferable to fix the underlying issue in the relationship first rather than try to conceal it by opening up the relationship, especially when infidelity is involved. This frequently entails breaking up or divorcing.

However, in certain cases, the strategy allows both parties to move toward an open relationship built on trust, love, and commitment.

If you respond “yes” to the following questions, you may be a good candidate for an open relationship:

  • Are you and your partner both genuinely interested in non-monogamy?
  • Do you and your partner have different sexual needs and/or orientations?
  • Are you considering an open relationship out of a place of trust (and not, for example, because of broken trust or infidelity)?
  • Are you able to openly communicate with your partner?
  • Do you have a relationship built on a solid foundation of honesty and trust?
  • Are you able to handle jealousy in a healthy manner?

Types Of Open Relationship

#1. Swinging:

Swinging is a form of open relationship in which partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with others at the same time. Most couples see swinging as a healthy approach to strengthening the bond in their relationship.

#2. Polyamory:

This is the habit of having multiple romantic relationships at a time with the individuals’ agreement.

#3. Open Marriage:

An open marriage, often referred to as consensual non-monogamy, is a type of marriage in which a married couple agrees to their partners engaging in romantic relationships with other people.

Because of the agreement between the couple, it is not to be cheating.

Why Open Relationships Don’t Work

Most of the time, open relationships do not work, especially for couples trying to change from a monogamous relationship to an open one.

Few reasons why open relationships fail:

  • Open relationships can be time-pressing. You may not be able to meet up with the demands of your multiple partners.
  • Society sees those in an open relationship as less mature and that to desire more than one partner means not being able to cope with commitment.
  • The rate of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is high.
  • Pressuring your partner to agree to an open relationship may lead to many problems in the end.

Problems In Open Relationships

Jealousy may set in. In the beginning, it may seem like the best idea at the time, like freedom, but when your demands are not met, or excuses are being made, jealousy is welcomed.

In Constantine & Constantine (1971), researchers discovered that 80% of participants in open marriages had experienced jealousy at a point.

Open relationships fail most times as a result of dishonesty. It happens when your partner is not honest enough to realize they don’t want you anymore.

Dishonesty is also when you or your partners are not true to yourselves.

Just like other relationships, communication matters a lot. However, in this case, the risk of getting hurt is high.

Once you are not able to confide in your partner, especially your primary partner, they may feel unworthy of themselves or left out. In the end, they may feel cheated.

In open relationships, trust should not be such, and this can lead to problems. Trust is very important.

Facts About Open Relationships

  • Not everyone in an open relationship is open to marriage.
  • Jealousy can not be avoided, but it is all about working through it and not being protected against it.
  • An open relationship is not always about sex. Some practise it so that they will not always feel pressured by one person. It is easier for some couples to know they have other options.
  • People in open relationships can be committed. They are able to trust each other so much as to explore other options.
  • Couples in open relationships have rules that guide them. Most couples want theirs to be emotionally open but sexually exclusive and vice versa. It all depends on you and your partners.


  • “Stay out of drama. Respect the rules and don’t play with a man who has a jealous girlfriend”, Sofia from You, Me, Us, Them.
  • ” No means no. And ask before you touch”, Joffy from You, Me, Us, Them.
  • ” One of the most valuable things we can learn from open sexual lifestyles is that our programming is changeable”, Dossier Easton.

Some Apps For Open Relationships

#1. Feeld:

This app, previously known as 3nder, is a basic free-to-use app with in-app purchase options for additional functions. The field was in the UK in July 2014 and in the US in 2015, with over 1.6M downloads on IOS as of August 2016.

You can make your choices according to the person you are looking for, geographical search area, and sexual preference. However, the app shows you the person interested in you.

In addition, it gives you the opportunity to choose who or who not to connect with.

#2. OkCupid:

It is a US-based, internationally operating online dating and friendship app. Registration is free. This app was listed in Times magazine’s 2007 top 10 dating websites.

#3. Tinder:

It is an American geosocial networking and online dating application that allows unknown users to click to like or dislike other profiles based on their photos, a small bio, and common interests.


Is an open relationship healthy?

Recent research that used a novel framework to explore types of monogamy and nonmonogamy suggests that open, consensual, and nonmonogamous relationships can be healthy and satisfying.

Are Open relationships real relationships?

First, an open relationship, also known as a non-exclusive relationship, is an intimate relationship that is sexually non-monogamous. An open relationship means you still have one primary partner, but both can have other sexual partners.

Do open relationships hurt?

If you can’t trust your partner, having an open relationship with them will surely lead to hurt feelings. Again, this is normal, but being open about it is way better than being closed off and feeling hurt by your guy or girl going on dates that don’t include you.

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