So the reason I’m writing this MyTake is simply to share my experience within such a relationship. I’ve been seeing a number of questions on this topic recently and there are a lot of people who hold highly negative opinions yet don’t fully understand what it is they hate. Many opinions supporting such a relationship have received judgement, hate, and disgust. This sort of relationship isn’t for everyone and so if that’s the case for you, that is fine: I’m not arguing against monogamy! In order to hopefully offer some insight, I’ll take you through what led up to this change in my relationship, the rules that we follow, and why it doesn’t reflect negatively upon our relationship (from our perspective).
So I’ll start off by explaining the basics. I’m in what I describe as a poly/open relationship. The reason I use these two terms is because we’re somewhere in the middle. We aren’t just in an open relationship because typically this implies casual sex while in a relationship. People in an open relationship can simply have sex with whoever they like, which isn't the case with us. I’m not really in a polyamorous relationship either because we’re not searching for love outside our relationship, which is typically the case with polyamory. My girlfriend and I date outside our relationship and can have sex with people we consider there to be a connection with. So you’re probably saying to yourself “Well clearly your relationship is dysfunctional” or “you must not love your girlfriend, or she must not love you” or perhaps even “the sex must be bad in your current relationship”. None of these would be remotely accurate so allow me to explain why we decided to go from being monogamous to being poly/open.
Not too long ago we were chatting, and we both shared our thoughts on the same subject: we discussed the fact that we love each other but we’re both young and monogamy feels a bit like the end. People date, then enter into a monogamous relationship, then move in together, then get married, have kids, die...Neither of us has really been the relationship type prior to meeting and even when we did meet, it was only supposed to be casual but our connection grew into what it is today. We’ve always shared the view that we don’t want to get married and we don’t want to have children.
However, there’s more love in the world that what we can share between the two of us and since we’re still young, we wondered whether we’re missing out on aspects of life that young people typically enjoy. We talked openly about how we miss the thrill of the chase: that feeling of flirtatious excitement when you have sexual chemistry with a new person. We flirt with one another but we know that sex is on the table so it just isn’t the same.
We knew with 100% certainty that we didn’t want our relationship to end: we love each other, we live together, and the last thing we wanted to do was throw a spanner in the works. So, we decided we would take baby steps into giving a poly/open relationship a trial run.
All relationships have rules: some are spoken, some are unspoken. With us taking the step into a poly/open relationship, and with this all being new territory for us, we decided to discuss the overall concept and explore what would or wouldn’t’ be acceptable. We discussed every aspect over a couple of days and in the end we came up with two very simple rules:
1. Communication is essential! Everything will be communicated with one another. If we’re talking to someone on a dating app with whom we feel a connection, we’ll let the other person know. If we’re going on a date, we let the other person know. If we decide to go home with the date, we let the other person know.
However, this level of communication doesn’t just apply to us. We agreed that anyone we’re going on a date with MUST know about our relationship status. So before meeting the person, we have to clarify with them that they are aware that we’re in a poly/open relationship.
2. Don’t bring anyone back to the flat! This rule serves two functions. Firstly, it rules out any uncomfortable meetings or awkward encounters. Secondly, it keeps the flat as ours. Nobody will have sex in our bed but the two of us and so our flat remains like our sacred place.
These rules keep everything above board. However, they also serve a more important function: we decided early on that because this relationship style is new to both of us, that we can pull the plug at any time. If one of us begins to feel uncomfortable then they just have to say and everything stops. It doesn’t matter if we’re on a date or going home with another person, if the plug is pulled, the plug is pulled. Our relationship to each other is paramount and takes priority above all else. So by communicating at every step, we can establish how the other person feels and decide whether to take a step forward or hold our position.
Love and Sex
So there are probably those of you who believe that this relationship type is an indication of an area lacking within a relationship. In reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The sex is incredible. There really isn’t any other way to describe it. We are as sexually compatible as any two humans could be with one another, our libidos match perfectly, and there aren’t any sexual areas that one of us wishes to explore that the other doesn’t. Our new relationship style isn’t just about sex. We don’t go out and have sex with strangers or attend mass orgies. This isn’t about fulfilling an unquenched sexual desire, it’s about deeper connections and the thrill of chasing them. So it must be a love thing, right? One or both of us must not love the other. Again, this would be incorrect. We love each other deeply, trust each other, value each other, respect each other, and we want to spend the rest of our lives together.
Ask yourself this: how many relationships last for life? You could look at marriage statistics and you’d find that the divorce rate can be anywhere from 30-50% (1). If you were to look at relationships, you’d find that the percentage is much higher. How many people have just one relationship and stay with that person throughout their entire life? I’d wager it’s less than 5% in the Western world. What about cheating? Cheating is one of the major causes of a relationship failing. Estimates suggest that the rates for admitted infidelity among women is 10-15% while being 20-25% for men, and note that that is just admitted infidelity. I know, I know, you’re going to claim that you would never cheat on a partner. Well, at least 10-25% of you would!
Humans naturally have this flaw whereby we view the grass as being greener on the other side. This happens in many aspects of life, including relationships. “Soulmates” is a concept for children. In reality, we have no idea whether the person we are with is the best match for us. We are nearing a global population of 8 billion people, how many of them do you think you’ll interact with within your life?
The benefits of a poly/open relationship is that I’m already in love and I have great sex, so all pressures that people would usually face when going on a date are removed entirely. If I feel that I have a connection with someone then I’m able to explore it without having to cheat or be shady. Not only that, but I can discuss such feelings openly with my partner without feeling like it will lead to consequences. How many of you would react calmly to a partner saying "I have feelings for someone at work"?
Again, let me just be clear, I am not arguing against monogamy. If this concept seems weird or dysfunctional to you, then don’t do it. I’m not inviting you to try it; I’m simply sharing my experience within it. Live your life the way you like but allow others to do the same! The way my girlfriend and I look at things is like this: you have multiple close family members, but do you love them all equally? I doubt it. However, you do still love them all and you are capable of loving them all. Similarly, do you have multiple friendships? You probably have a best friend though, right? Does that mean that you can only have one friend and no others? Of course not!
Some people will argue that “love” is different. Firstly, love is simply a chemical response that encourages us to breed and care for our young, increasing our likelihood of altruism in extreme circumstances whereby we will sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our offspring. It’s basically a guarantee that your DNA will survive. Secondly, where is it written that we can only feel romantic love or romantic connections for one person and one person only? You might choose to do so but that doesn’t make it a universal law.
Anyway, if you have any questions then feel free to ask them. If you’re going to preach your disgust or contempt towards my relationship then I’d ask that you don’t bother. I want to use this space so people can ask their questions and have civil discourse. I've removed the option to comment anonymously but if you have any questions that you don't want to be viewed publically, you can message me!