Culturally, we are born with the fact that an erotic or romantic relationship are bound for exclusivity. Of course, we are not expecting our parents to be more than two (biologically) but as relationships evolve outside of family making ideation to more fun, validating, self-completing, and sexually satisfying phase of the human existence, we ought to experiment situations and set-ups where we can better cope with the ever more complexing demands of the human mind and heart.
And one of those experimented romantic ventures are commonly known in the modern day as Open Relationship. By definition, it is the opposite of the socially familiar, exclusive dating. If you are dating openly, you are dating inclusively –basically, it is okay for you and your partner and everyone involved in the circle to have erotic or sexual relationship with one and the other. Other than that, some add-ups or rules are up to your agreement.
Psychologically, people in non-monogamous, (just the two of you) mutually consented, open erotic bond may experience the same level of satisfaction, sexual pleasure, and positive construction of well-being as those in a close (akin ka lang) one. However, as we all know and are aware of, relationships are not one size fits all. You can’t be satisfied with the things that you and your partner are not consensually comfortable and happy with. So, for the relationship to succeed and have a win-win condition both of you or the rest of the people participating on your romantic ventures have to be physically, psychologically, and socially working out.
PART 1: How to know if you’re right for it:
- You and your partner have full of love to offer, giving and believing that you can love more than one at once is confirming trust, pursuing joy and safe keeping the relationship.
- You believe that open relationship allows you to explore your sexuality (regardless of gender), to grab and experience other sexual relationships while reserving your most to your man or lady.
- Open relationship gives both partners the freedom to not do wild and erotic activities and fantasies they are not comfortable doing but the other partner likes to do.
- Triad or group relationship turns you on
- You need to satisfy your bisexual needs
- You’ve both developed feelings and you have to act on it consensually.
If you are still curious how an open relationship works you might want to read and consider first these things before having a conversation to be in one.
1. Open Relationship is not a cure (hindi ito lunas sa panlalamig)
Opening up a relationship is not a cure or a quick fix for an ailing and dying relationship. In fact, most weak relationship will more likely to end miserably when using the “open relationship” card as a solution. If a relationship is failing, it will fail. Nothing can fix a fated failed connection, it is not meant to be.
A successful non-monogamous open relationship requires a strong, sturdy, and independent relationship first. It is not built on a weak and shallow grounds. If you’re insecure and shaky about your relationship, the idea of you or your partner having sex with other people will definitely not help.
If you don’t feel loved, if you don’t feel secure, if you don’t feel trusted and if you can’ be trusted. You are not for this set up. Non-monogamous affections are not just to explore new things, or to have fun or to tick a checkbox on your bucket list. It is more progressive and existential in nature and process. It requires love, emotions, pleasure, excitement and fulfillment.
2. You are not committed exclusively (may sa’yo pero di lang ikaw)
Every relationship works best when you and your partner are genuinely happy. And for many today, happiness means freedom, breathable- non-restricting love contract and an accepting environment. This notion emerges when few couples have noticed that a monogamous dating feels like you are imprisoned and bound to be responsible towards your “one partner is my everything” framework, that the idea of permanency is suffocating, an empty or barren emotional intimacy that is sexually exasperating.
People may often get this as immoral, unethical, and utterly malevolent. But NO, being in this kind of relationship does not mean that and definitely does not give cheating a good name. Open dating does not make you a bad person, its just that nowadays we need different things from different partners, and we need to embrace different possibilities. Then again, being in love and in a relationship means: is to enjoy yourself and appreciate your partner more wherever or whatever the set-up it might be. So, if you’re willing and agreeing to break the monogamy chains and try opening your relationship up then, go for it.
3. Cheating is not Open Relationship (honesty is still the policy)
Like exclusive dating what makes an open relationship work is also through honesty. You have to be prepared in discussing what you’re comfortable and not comfortable with. AGAIN, being in an open relationship does not grant you the permission to cheat. It is giving both partners the freedom to pursue and offer love to other people under the conditions of mutual respect, non-derogatory communication, and 100% honesty.
You have to fully trust each other, to the point of staying at the peak of your extreme affection towards the primary relationship because you’re comfortably able to tell anything, especially the ones when the two of you are meeting your other sexual needs with different people.
Open relationships are not for the jealous and possessive kinds. Trust and honesty is the foundation, being open is the security.
4. Open Relationship should validate your feelings (kapag nagselos ka, mahalin mo lalo)
I know that I have told you that this set up are not for the jealous and the possessives, however there are instances when the most Open-minded, tolerant, and trusting can feel a twinge of jealousy or insecurity. When this happen, validate your feelings, it is okay not to be okay. Jealousy is a strong force to ignore, it destroys the very fragment of the relationship. So, do not pretend to be fine if you’re definitely not.
When you feel threatened or intimidated or unsecure you have to openly tell this to your partner. The partner on the other hand have to help the other party to release negative thoughts regarding the relationship and validate the existence of the primary man or lady. You have to show and make them feel that they are equally loved. – the whole point of this is to keep the fire burning, so if you’re planning to make this work as an excuse to get out of a relationship. Then, you’re an ass. Thus, you have to organize your schedule, be honest about what you truly feel and be physically, mentally, and emotionally there at the moment with whoever and wherever it may be.
5. Open Relationship is being at the Moment (walang aalis, walang maiiwan, walang hindi na babalik)
Figure out your set-up and your schedule. Being openly dating means you have to decide whether to attend and spend a momentous dinner and Christmas with your primary partner and just schedule a quick hook-ups with other less significant partners. Or you both may have other equally central partners, or you will prefer to enjoy threesomes. You have to decide – as long as you’re keeping your schedule straight and offering reasonable amount of effort, the relationship will work. You have to bear in mind that you are committed, so you have to mutually determine what routine or schedule works for you to give and bring the best out of each other.
PART 2: Open Relationship and the many other kinds of Non-monogamous Relationship
Open Relationship vs “Walang Label” dating
There is a huge difference between dating openly and play (label-less) dating. When you decide to open your relationship, you’ve come to an agreement that are still bound by commitment and trust. And an open relationship, although can be seen in various forms are noble desires to fulfill each other’s differences and needs may it be sexually or emotionally.
“Walang Label” on the other hand, or label less relationship is a plaything. It requires zero commitment, zero emotions, zero expectations, no rules and agreement, you’re not attached, you’re just simply sexual. You act on impulses; you don’t feel responsible. You don’t care about communication because you can talk to anyone.
Simply what sets apart open relationship and label-less relationship is the idea of being “in-love”, in an open-relationship you are in love to your partner, you appreciate him or her, you acknowledge his or her existence, you are there when you are needed, you provide with passion – you just simply agrees to engage in sex outside your commitment, for progressive purposes. While the label-less relationship is solely sexual and love-less.
Open Relationship vs Polyamory
Both can be visually seen as having sex other than your partner. But one is a situation the other is a personality. Open relationship is more of an event that give both parties the opportunity to explore their sexual desires, while Polyamory (which etymologically translated as “multiple love”) like LGBTQ+ tendencies are psychological or behavioral desire to love or have romantic relationships with more than one person that are not entirely just physical.
Polyamorous people may tend to have equal level of love and intimacy to two, three or how many people he or she would like to date. It has to be agreed also by people participating in the set up.
Open relationship, although may also take the form of a polyamorist, is primarily a set-up that a couple do when they both decide to open their relationship after being exclusively having sex with each other. Still, it is a relationship that reserves most emotional and romantic connection to the primary lover, a set-up that has no ill-will, is trustworthy and well-communicated.
Open relationship vs Swinging
Still, open relationship and swinging includes having erotic tendencies towards other human being who is not our primary partner but swinging includes the spouse or the primary partner in the sexual activity.
A good example of this is having threesome. This happen when you and your partner agrees to have sexual relationship with a third non-romantically related person. (but, sometimes especially in a bisexual relationship, everyone is in-love or romantically engaged.)
Whether you decide to explore your senses and desires through one-night stands and label-less hook ups or open your relationship and your heart to other people, non-monogamous arrangements when done right can bring personal contentment. The key is comfort, communication, and upright intention.
Part 3: How to Communicate the need for Open, Polyamorous Relationship, Do’s, and Don’ts
Deciding to take part in an open relationship is easier said than done. The difficulties often starts with details. One is that the relationship can go in many forms depending on many conditions and demands. Two unclear, uncommunicated, and mismatched expectations of this circumstances can bring a sprouting open relationship on the ground even before it starts. Not being 100% honest on the things that we give or not give consent to often leads to suppressed negative feelings that can be considered as a ticking time-bomb in the relationship. Hence, proper execution of open or non-monogamous love set-up has to start in proper and full emotional disclosure between both and all parties. Here’s how you do it.
1. Own your need first and start with “I” then ask.
You may want to know if your partner will go aboard with you and agrees with your plan to open your relationship to other people. To do that you may start in asking a question that clearly includes its necessity for you. You may start telling him or her:
- I’ve read about open relationships and … it may be something that I want to try.
- I would like to explore sex with other people… will you consider opening up our relationship?
- I think It would be hot to see you with someone… would you ever be interested inviting a third?
However, when the very idea of open relationship was turned down by the opposite party, it is a clear picture of incompatibility and these differences causes much larger relationship issues like loss of interest, stiffness, and aloofness that may later on continue to break-ups and regrets.
2. Set Agreements and Boundaries
One distinct characteristic of being in an open relationship is the existence of agreements and boundaries. Commonly, people entering this type of relationship would like to do it rule-based, however rules are stiff and sickening, yet still we can have an organize, honest and transparent relationship when we look at this conditions as agreements and boundaries that works two or all-ways. Moreover, setting agreements can be empowering for both partners.
What we should do is to give everyone participating in the relationship a power to decide what behavior, activities and other things can make them feel relaxed and at ease. Hence, aside from making agreements between you and your primary partner it is also important that you consider your outside partners, your third or the unicorn of the relationship – treat them as an active human participant that is worth your valuing because you are investing, and they are investing back on feelings, time, and effort.
It is a lie to say and assume that in an open relationship we can make an agreement about “not falling in love” – this stem from monogamous thinking, and an open relationship as an opposite of the latter, clearly, we should eradicate the thinking that love is a limited non-renewable resource. So instead of setting up “NO STRINGS ATTACHED” agreement to the process, it is better to practice controlling your emotions and actions that reflects these emotions to benefit everyone.
- How should you show love? – how do you want to receive love?
- How can I show love through time? – how do I value someone through time?
- How much information should I know, how much of myself should I open?
It is also important to have communication whether to start dating common friends – because oftentimes, we see perfect open relationship opportunities from people that will surely understand us. However, deciding on these must still be consensually. So, communicating “who do you want to share space with” is another important idea to discuss.
In addition, deciding also if you having open relationship means you are going to treat your other partners equally, of if you want to have a sense of emotional hierarchy where you reserve the highest to your primary lover and give bits and pieces of yourself to others. – “How do you mark your relationship?”
what do you need:
- Friendship and Companionship
- Love and Attachment
- Or Psychological exploration?
Lastly, you may also want to build an agreement scheme if you both want details regarding your intimate journey with others. Communicating whether you want to meet each other’s partners is always at the table. – being friend with your partner’s partner can mean maturity, stability and success of an openly steered relationship.
There are always ways to show maturity in setting up emotional boundaries and set-ups in an open relationship. But the most important thing to consider is how as a partner can be honest about our own feelings, how can we give each other freedom to choose and direct his or her own life and how as a loving couple can we give each other the right of privacy. Honesty, respect, tolerance, healthy communication, positive outlook towards life are the true foundation of an open relationship status.
Physical and Sexual Boundaries
After deciding on emotional agreements and boundaries, it is now time to open up about physical and sexual margins. Communication about this topic usually includes touch points, risk management, arousing and offending sex acts and if and how we show warmth and motive.
Communicating your sexual fantasies or fetishes for beginners may seem to be an off-touch awkward subject of a conversation. However, successfully talking about this things can give you an idea whether the person you are meeting can give you what you want and vice versa. – Remember the purpose of having a relationship outside of our commitment with one means we get to decide and balance how we move and play in the love ground; hence we do not want to be imprisoned in a fake orgasm or libido. So, you may decide:
- Where should I be touched, where am I touching?
- How do we do foreplays? How can we show warmth and romance?
- Will we use toys? – if yea how will it be used, shared, and cleaned?
- How about the use of contraceptives? What are your agreement regarding family?
- Should we display affection publicly?
Deciding to build a relationship more than what you have as a couple can bring you a lot of advantages physically, mentally, and emotionally. If your relationship is strong enough to hold one to two more other progressive intimate connections and explore the things that you are scared to explore with each other or your are too curious to experience, then being in an open relationship is a viable option.
It may be overwhelming to hear but should you have any doubts, the best way to address it is to communicate with you partner and ask if he or she fully supports you and are ready to feel more love than ever before. However, do not get too excited. It is still better to think things through and to consider your couple situation.
An open relationship is an effective bond set-up. But it must be done properly to enjoy its true purpose “to keep the once strong fire to a burst of even stronger fire”. Opening up to your partner is the first step of non-monogamous relationship building. Always make sure that you are doing this because this will make you love more, not because you want to escape a dying relationship. You are opening up the relationship because you are hot for love not because you want permission to your infidelity.
Thus, when you decide to be in an open relationship status, this is just another step to prove that love is love no matter the person, no matter the setting, no matter the context.