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Could You Ever Be in an Open Relationship?

I happened upon an essay by Sirenita Lake, a woman who will soon celebrate 23 years of non-monogamous marriage. Sirenita believes that being attracted to someone else in no way changes her commitment to her husband, because each relationship is separate. She also doesn't mind if her partners are non-monogamous, because she's not a jealous or competitive person.

Sirenita thinks it's time for people to stop feeling bad for straying from their partners:

Our beliefs about marriage are in permanent, unhealthy tension with reality, with around half of marital partners attempting to be monogamous against their nature, like gays in the past who tried to live straight. 

Interesting. So Sirenita thinks that some people are naturally wired to be with multiple people at the same time. I guess that's fine with me, if, like Sirenita and her husband, both partners are in on the arrangement, which neutralizes dishonesty and betrayal. Otherwise, "I'm wired to be with that other woman" sounds like a convenient excuse for a cheater.

Could you ever put monogamy aside and be in an open relationship?


Join The Conversation
crimson-scarlet crimson-scarlet 8 years
Everyone's different and people's thoughts on this can change as they grow over time. I would have been judgmental and reactive about this myself years ago, so I can understand where most of these comments are coming from. I am in a poly type love relationship. I didn't go looking for it, it grew naturally through friendship with this man. And it's about love, yes there's the erotic side too. I love my best friend differently to how I love my husband. I love my boyfriend differently too...because they all have unique personalities and we connect differently to each other as people. They do not know each other but know a lot about each other. They both trust me. Trust is the main thing, like in any relationship. It is amazing! Not sex, the ability to be yourself and discuss anything openly. It's not kinky or sleezy or anything like that. It's my business, our business. It's not going to work for anyone who is religious, has conservative views about what is "ok" as a relationship or for anyone who truly believes that there is only one "true" love. It's not going to work for everyone because the more relationships you are in the more demands there are on you to keep up with someone's life and be a support them. People who judge make people like me feel like I can not be open with them. How can I talk about my boyfriend, who loves and supports me in my life, with people like that without being condemned or misunderstood? It's not an affair and it's not cheating. Cheating is lying, disrespecting your partner, lying to yourself....some people who are in open relationships or poly relationships are strange, engaging in risky stuff etc but then so are so many "normal" monogamous people. Some of us are honest, hardworking, loving people just trying to live how we feel right living. Thanks for reading.
sham28 sham28 8 years
I believe in awesome epic love, and that involves being the only one for someone else- not saying, 'so I went down on Tammy a few hours ago but don't worry I brushed my teeth. Kiss?'
mistwolf mistwolf 8 years
I dont' rely on anyone to complete me, no. But, for instance, my wife of 14 years has no interest in BDSM. While I enjoy a good bit of rope play. Being able to explore that without fear or guilt or lies is important to me, and is one of many examples of 'that's what friends are for' that is untrue. :)
AmandaKrups AmandaKrups 8 years
mistwolf, that's what friends are for. My husband doesn't like to go shopping, so I go with my friends. I don't like to go camping, so he goes with his friends.
mistwolf mistwolf 8 years
I disagree on the 'how low' comment. I don't think it is realistic to expect that there will be one person out there who can fulfill every need we have. There will always be things I enjoy that my primary partner will not, and likewise things she will enjoy that I will not. Which leaves three options: Endure it even if we don't like it, suppress the need 'for the greater good', or find another outlet. We choose the third. As for it always being cheating, I /strongly/ disagree. Cheating is lies, deceipt, subterfuge. Cheating is doing things that are 'not allowed' by the current rules of a situation. There is no cheating here, as we are open, honest, and forthright about things. There's no need for many of the lies that seem to both sustain and undermine 'normal' relationships. With our structure, I know that while I can't fulfill every need of my partners, it doesn't diminish our love for each other. Love is not a finite resource; having more people to love doesn't mean each gets less love. You'd never say it is wrong to have more than one child because by doing so you are depriving them of a 'full share' of love, after all.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
As humans, we are wired to want a partner in life. Usually that goes with monogamy, but sometimes it does not. It's not for everyone...heck, it's not for most people. I don't think you are conforming if you are monogamous, but it is sort of what people gravitate towards. It's the "norm", but it is also widely desired. I could not be in an open relationship. I just don't see how it makes things less complicated or better. Relationships aren't all about sex and sexual desires, so sleeping with one person is not the end of the world. Love plays a massive part, and you can even be in love without sex. I just think that for the way I view it, I'm better as monogamous. So is my boyfriend. You will never see us complaining about not sleeping with other people. I just think trying to balance feelings for two people, two sexual relationships, or one loving and one sexual complicates things more than it needs to be complicated.
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
The thing is though - when you are poly, you are being cheated on. How low would it make you feel if you knew you just weren't enough for your partner? That he/she also needs to "love" somebody else? It doesn't make sense and involves a lot of risk.
mistwolf mistwolf 8 years
Poly and proud. I don't think I could ever be monogamous, truly, and it would be a lie to try to be. And I never have to worry about my partner 'cheating', as it makes no sense.. Why bother lieing when you can just be open and honest about everything?
danakscully64 danakscully64 8 years
I didn't know that! How cute :) That list isn't complete, it's just a few of them. Animals rock.
danakscully64 danakscully64 8 years
No, I could never be in an open relationship. Even the thought of another woman touching my boyfriend makes me sick to my stomach. I also have no desire to be with another person. That being said, I have no problem with other people being involved in an open relationship, as long as they're safe about it and kids aren't being put in the middle.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 8 years
I am going out on a limb here, but I personally think people in "open" relationships just haven't found the right one yet. They have someone that they theoretically "love", but apparently not enough to stop looking around and sampling other's wares. If you are truly in love, you want the person you love to never want to see you with someone else. Of course, people fall out of love, but then, they split up... they don't just stick around and add more sexual partners to the mix while they hang out with a person they have become ambivalent about. In these open relationships, I doubt that it is about true romantic love...probably more like fondness, compatibility, comfort in what you know, all of the things that you want in a friend, but love....doubt it. JMO, but for me, when I am in love, I want him to want only me and vice versa. What can I say.... I'm a Scorpio.
danakscully64 danakscully64 8 years
"animals don't stay with the same partner during their life" The follow mate for life: Gibbon apes, wolves, termites, coyotes, barn owls, beavers, bald eagles, golden eagles, condors, swans, brolga cranes, geese, French angel fish, sandhill cranes, pigeons, prions (a seabird), red-tailed hawks, anglerfish, ospreys, prairie voles (a rodent), and black vultures — are a few that mate for life. Of course they're not always 100% faithful, but there's a good number that are and they don't have the same thought process as us, so you can't blame them (they don't take wedding vows either). I never buy the "but we're animals" excuse. No no no.
Beauty Beauty 8 years
Open relationships don't work for me, personally — past casual dating, it's too hard for me to have multiple romantic relationships. But if they work for other people, why not? Everybody's situation is different.
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 8 years
I'm not judging anyone, but I also disagree with the animal comparison. In all reality, it's not really valid because certain species mate for life. I would just like to add that intelligent human beings are not to be compared with animals in the jungle even if they may act that way in the bedroom. :rotfl:
sparklemeetspop sparklemeetspop 8 years
I would have to agree that open relationships seem pretty fishy to me. Sorry, I have to disagree with the animal comparison, since humans seem to have some sense of morality and I don't believe animals do. I think that self control is a virtue, while giving into impulses -- no matter how "natural" -- isn't virtuous.
mdemariah mdemariah 8 years
I think non-monogamous relationships are natural. I mean, animals don't stay with the same partner during their life. And, if we relate friendship and love, these are similar relationships.. If we have many friendships, why can't we have many love relationships?
smaine07 smaine07 8 years
No way.
earthgoddess earthgoddess 8 years
I really hate it when people who are in "open" relationships judge those who are in monogamous relationships. If you want us to be accepting of your lifestyle, then you need to be just as accepting of ours.
Jinx Jinx 8 years
Not if I was serious about the guy. I am too jealous, I don't like to share.
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