What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Wedding bells? A cute text? A two-storey house with a garden? An Ed Sheeran song?
Happily ever after?
If you’re a girl growing up watching Disney movies (or any Hollywood film really), you probably grew up waiting for Mr. Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet. You planned the wedding all out – down to what kind of confetti will be thrown at you while you walk down the aisle.
You just need a man.
And usually, that man will look a certain way, act a certain way and most importantly stay loyal to you.
NO MATTER WHAT.
But what if Teh Talk told you this monogamous dream of yours went against basic human instincts? What if a lifetime love was actually completely unnatural?
Increasing divorce and infidelity rates certainly prove the idea of monogamy as close to impossible. To back a non-monogamous society up even further, only 17% of human cultures are strictly monogamous. The other percentage finds humans embracing a mix of marriage types: from polygamy (a man having multiple wives) to polyandry (a woman having multiple husbands).
Even referring to two species closest to us: chimpanzees and bonobos who live in large groups and the female (whilst ovulating) is found to mate with a lot of males. To the point where the males fight each other just to get the chance to mate and they’ve even evolved to produce more sperm to enable them to carry on their genetic heritage!
Of course following Charles Darwin’s biological evolution theory, our human ancestors split off from these primates several million years ago. And as they decoupled to become the humans we are today so did former habits. Polygamy is one of them.
It makes sense. A father dedicated to his family, unlike the father who leaves to the store to “get cigarettes” and has yet to return home after 25 years means a higher chance of survival for his offspring. He will be there to protect them from any danger or other dangerous males.
But as we shift back to the current 21st century, a lot of individuals are starting to question the benefits of monogamy and have started developing their own type of love that is more open, more flexible and governed less by societal expectations and more what feels right. To them.
In fact, they call it an open relationship and Woke will explore this new concept.
And maybe you and I will learn a thing or two.
What is an open relationship?
As you can guess from the name, it’s a relationship that’s… well, open. Monogamous relationships usually involve two partners then immediately understood to be closed off to everyone else.
So an open relationship is just the opposite of that but this time, the two partners can have other multiple partners too! Sounds simple enough… right?
So is it the same thing as polygamy and polyandry? Technically those two terms fall under open relationships!
“Open relationship” is just an umbrella term for any relationship that doesn’t fall under the usual definition of monogamy.
So whether you and your partner just sleep around but are NEVER emotionally intimate with others or you and your girlfriend both have boyfriends or even if it’s just your partner dating around while you stay at home and eat chips; all of these examples are open relationships!
We know what you’re thinking, “How could you suggest I love more than one person???” but hey, think about it, you’re probably already doing that exact thing in other forms of relationships right now.
Most of us tend to have more than one close friend at a time. Just because we have multiple friends doesn’t mean we love any of them less.
It’s the same concept but being in an open relationship means applying it to romantic love instead.
From the examples above, you can kinda tell there are no set rules when it comes to what YOUR open relationship means to you and your partner(s).
So if this idea intrigues you, allow Woke to explain how to get into one.
How to be in an open relationship?
1. Consider the “whys” first
Before you start racing into the pants of your Tinder matches, consider how YOU might feel if your partner does the same. It’s easy to be the one sleeping/dating around but what if it’s the person you love doing it too?
Humans are a possessive bunch and it’s perfectly normal if you feel the tingly feeling of the green-eyed monster whilst imagining that scenario.
Most importantly, ensure your relationship is already in a healthy place. You know how rocky couples think getting married or having a baby will save their relationship and then it doesn’t? So yeah don’t introduce “being open” to your already rocky relationship.
Open relationships actually require a huge amount of trust on both parties so if you and your partner are already doubting each other, screwing other people definitely won’t help.
2. Set ground rules BEFOREHAND
So you and your partner agree on opening the relationship so what now? We know setting rules seems to defeat the purpose of “an open relationship” but trust us, without any rules, things WILL get messy, tears will be shed and the relationship that was perfectly okay before WILL break apart right before your eyes.
So note important questions like: Will you know who your partner sleeps with? Will they share all the details with you? Are you allowed to sleep over their place? Is it just a one night only thing or can you sleep with the same person over & over again?
These questions might seem like a basic agreement to you and your partner but we all have different interpretations of what something can mean to us so it’s better to sit down and have this talk with your partner.
And if you can’t, you’re better off not getting into an open relationship.
3. Communication is key and jealousy is normal
Just like in every relationship, you and your partner MUST be able to talk. And not just about setting ground rules either. You should check-in with your partner once in a while just to see how they’re faring with the new type of relationship. This gives it a more equal ground so it’s not just one person enjoying it while the other “compromises” by shutting up.
Also, note that you WILL feel jealous. Even the most “chill” and “progressively romantically open” person will still feel pangs of jealousy. No one likes their partner sleeping around even if it’s done in an honest manner.
But that’s when communication comes into play. Maybe you’ll realize that hey I actually really really really hate that my partner shares their one night stand’s details with me or that I don’t mind my partner doing the dirty but doing the dishes for this rando? Over my dead body!
Which brings me to my last point:
4. Change is inevitable
You might open your relationship just to close it right back up. Or maybe further down the line, you two decide to mutually become monogamous again. And that’s totally fair!
A great relationship (open or not) means continually asking yourselves what you want AND need from the relationship. And if you’ve been in any relationships before, you know wants and needs constantly change.
In our society, it feels like relationships, love and sex all have certain rules & expectations placed on them and not even by ourselves but for others! An open relationship allows us to explore and question what we really want. Not what a Hollywood movie tells us what we should want.