Wanting an open relationship is not a new concept these days. Now that the dating circle has gotten larger than ever, open relationships are on the rise and all over the place. Most people don’t want to be tied down to one person because they are all still willing to explore and have different experiences with unique people.
Commitment does not entirely take a backseat. While it certainly does not sit shotgun, commitment stays in limbo when one is in an open relationship. The respect, care and affection remain but the general loyalty fades away. An open relationship just might not work for everyone.
An Open Relationship May Not Pan Out As Expected
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A partner with whom you share a certain intimate connection – both emotional and physical – without any boundaries of monogamy and fidelity confining you. In theory, an open relationship sounds like the perfect way to have the best of both worlds.
You have a romantic partner but there are no strings attached, no pressure of commitment. Win-win, right? Well, it may seem like it till one partner begins to get emotionally invested and territorial about the other. That’s when trouble in paradise starts brewing.
As this girl found out the hard way…
I grew up early and wanted to be cool
When I was 20 years old and living in a hostel in Pune, I thought I had the courage, freedom and advanced thinking to do whatever made me happy and look ‘cool’. Back in the late ‘70s, for a girl to pursue an MBA in Symbiosis Institute was a matter of pride and success.
I grew up very early due to the hardships of life. My first sexual encounter was at 17 years of age and that too with a married man of 35 years. We did it time and again until I realized that I was the ‘other’ woman in his life.
That’s when I knew I had to stop dating a married man. As I grew older, I thought it would not hurt me to have an open relationship. I had seen so many of my ‘girlfriends’ being cheated on that I felt that it is best to be honest about sleeping with someone else while also being with one person.
That way we do not hurt each other. I hate drama and so I decided that I was going to be brutally honest about how I felt about open relationships.
Related Reading:What is an open marriage and why do people choose to have one?
Let’s be open and honest, I suggested
I met a guy at work and we started dating. To date a girl at work was not very popular in my office. A few days later I told him that I was fine if he strayed, as long as he told me whom he was doing it with. I was okay with the idea of being in an open relationship.
I also told him that he should not expect me to be ‘only’ his in bed. As a sexual being, even I wanted to experiment with other men while having the security and comfort from one man. We both agreed and we started our relationship with equal honesty from both.
When I told my friends about the arrangement, they never understood me and called me crazy. Someone said to me, “How can you be okay with sharing your man with other women? And if he is fine with you sleeping with other men, then he surely does not care for you!”.
The idea of an open relationship did not appeal to anybody around me. That evening I came home and called up my boyfriend. He did not answer.
A few hours later he texted me, “Babe was having sex with this girl I met at a bar, what’s up?” I lost control and called him and started yelling at him. I was very upset to know from my friend that he did not care for me.
The only reason why I ever wanted an open relationship was to ensure I never get hurt. In that moment, the feeling of not being cared for seemed far more agonizing than the prospect of cheating in a relationship.
I can’t take this anymore!
I called my boyfriend to meet me. He snapped at me for being angry with him when it was my idea to let him have sex with other women. I asked him, “Do you love me? Do you even care for me?” and he replied, “Of course!”
“Then why don’t you stop me from sleeping with other men? And why can’t we want commitment from each other?” As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I realized that I was regretting being in an open relationship.
I wanted to protect myself from the hurt that any man could cause me and I realized that I had pushed myself into this trap. Was I dating a player? More importantly, was I being one too?
“Well, I thought we had an arrangement. You had no problems with me having sex with other women and now I am used to it. If you ask me to suddenly be monogamous I can’t. But if you want to stop sleeping around then it is your choice,” he said.
As much as I wanted to tell him to stop it, I realized that no man would ever want to give up on a chance to date a woman and also be allowed to stray.
Now it’s too late and it hurts
I wish I hadn’t told my friend who made me realize that I was a fool to have wanted an open relationship. What I really wanted was honesty and I could have gotten that by being monogamous as well. Honesty is one of the important components of trust in a relationship.
I love my boyfriend and while I now want a regular relationship, he is suggesting that I can leave him if I’m not fine with being in an open relationship as I proposed. I also wish I had set a condition when we started dating that it will be at my discretion that I can ask him to be exclusive when I think the time is right, but I figured it was too late to even do that.
Opting For An Open Relationship – Dos And Don’ts
|Set boundaries: Boundaries are extremely important in an open relationship. When it comes to sex, emotions or even the amount of times you drink coffee together, well-defined rules are what keep an open relationship afloat.
|Do not lie: The whole point of being in an open relationship is so that you can be comfortable and honest about all your sexual encounters with your primary partner. If you lie in a situation where you already have a lot of freedom, things could end badly for the two of you.
|Always use protection: When you have multiple partners, the onus is on you to be as careful as you can be. You do not want to be passing around STIs to your partners in an open relationship.
|Don’t ignore them: Even though your relationship is open, you still owe some things to your partner. It is important that you continue to treat them well. Do not ignore them or throw them to the sidelines because you have found another partner.
|Know when to back out: Even when you have made your intentions very clear, open relationships can quickly turn messy due to a want for commitment. If you see things going downhill and becoming more intense, back out carefully without making things more problematic.
|Don’t underplay jealousy: If your partner is raising concerns, do not shun them by calling them jealous and insecure. Listen to them, understand their perspective because you must continue to respect them no matter who else you are seeing.
(As told to Ajinkya Sontakke)