What is an open relationship?
An open relationship is an arrangement between two consenting adults to sleep together, date and have a relationship, and still sleep with other people outside the relationship. This means that you can sleep with anyone, as long as you come home to the one you truly love. Of course, in theory, they should be okay with that, just as you are okay with their dalliances, with other people.
There are many varieties of open relationships. Some couples are totally honest with each other, while others are on a 'don't ask, don't tell' kind of arrangement. Some couples keep their sexual adventures brief, with no protracted affairs, while others can actually date other people. The type of open relationship depends on the people involved; there are really no hard and fast rules.
Judgement and logic
Our society might try to judge or condemn, but there is logic behind this arrangement.
We all know that monogamy is getting more and more difficult, especially in our age where sex is everywhere for the taking. It takes true commitment and dedication to stay true and faithful to your partner. Cheating is rife, and has broken so many homes and hearts.
Some say that monogamy is not our natural inclination (men throw this one around a lot), but I personally believe that it is a commitment that can be kept.
'Cheating' doesn't just destroy relationships, but lives too. Some people are never the same after such a traumatic and emotional experience. We all know at least one couple that parted ways due to the unfaithfulness of one of them, even though they were still in love. The trust is gone, and it seems like it cannot be restored.
Now imagine if they had an open relationship. Being with someone else would just be a normal part of their relationship; there is no lying or deceit because nobody is ignorant of the activities of the other. At the end of the day, you still have your partner’s heart and trust because of the honesty between you two.
Open relationships recognise the fragility of the human nature and make allowances for those mistakes that could easily become fatal in other circumstances. In that way, it makes a lot of sense.
However, there are obvious drawbacks. Emotions get involved, lies ensue, and the trust that is so valued is suspect. Like every other relationship, open relationships have their huge gaping faults. Unexpected possessiveness and jealousy can set in and destroy what would have been a perfect arrangement. This can get even more complicated if children are involved – can the man ever really trust that he is the father of his children? What if one partner falls in love with someone outside the relationship? Could the partner become a casual affair instead of the constant companion?
Not for me
My opinion is this: love who you’re with, and take that brave step of total commitment to them no matter how difficult it is. We are complex enough without the messy addition of other people in the relationship dynamic, and maybe I am just a little biased. I could partake in a 'don’t ask, don’t tell' open relationship, but there will always be an undercurrent of distrust there. From the outside, I can appreciate the freedom and adventure in an open arrangement, but I can hardly be that rational when my emotions are involved.
See what I said about humans being possessive?
What about you? Could you imagine being in an open relationship? Share your thoughts below in the comments or join the discussions on Love Matters Naija and Love Matters Africa.