Open relationships are when two people agree that one or both partners can pursue sexual relationships outside the relationship they are committed to. Since the couples are aware of the existence of another man or woman, open relationships are not considered as cheating. That is not to say that open relationships don’t come with its ups and downs.
To find out what it is like to be in an open relationship, these women share their experiences with Saturday Sun. Here are their stories about what led them to it and some of the pros and cons of being in such agi setting.
Stella: Crazy travel schedules and long months apart, led us to open relationship
My job schedule demands I travel almost all the time. Several months apart and crazy work schedules led my boyfriend and I into open relationships. At times, it’s hard to avoid getting jealous and it can be challenging, sustaining communication across the miles and time zones. Missing each other doesn’t help either.
When one of us returns to base and we are together in a long time, we spend a whole night discussing everything including who we have been with, how many partners, how long, was it serious at the time, whether the other person knew about our relationship. Finally, are we able to put the affair behind us and move forward and never bring it up again?
What works for our open relationship is experiencing different partners without guilt. Another good part is that open communication leads to communication about everything. We have been in this relationship for four years and my partner and I are cool with it.
Jasmine: I am comfortable with my husband seeing other women
When I met my husband, he was what every woman wished for in a man. He is tall, dark and handsome and very intelligent too. We dated for three years and got married. We have been married for five years, and despite him being my husband, we have an understanding that he can see other women outside our marriage.
I knew how difficult it would be for him to stay faithful to me and vice-versa. So, we agreed to have lovers by the side. We don’t see it as cheating because we know that at the end of the day, we will get back to each other. Even though we agreed that we put each other and our relationship first, he can get jealous sometimes. Whenever any of us starts feeling jealous, we talk about it and move on. Many may wonder how our open relationship could possibly make our marriage strong, but it does. Everyone’s needs are always met, which I think makes us happier.
Bisola: Being in open marriage has deepened my commitment to my husband
My husband and I have been married for almost seven years. Owing to our conservative upbringing, we felt there were some formative experiences we missed as young people. Neither one of us had much opportunity to explore our sexualities. One day, my husband was confiding in me that he wished he had felt freer as a teenager and young adult to explore his interest in women. I felt this sincere regret on his behalf, and before I knew it, I was telling him he had my blessing to explore his sexuality outside our marriage.
Opening up our marriage felt so incredibly right and natural, but we are not without our challenges. I don’t feel comfortable telling others about the dynamics of my marriage. Of course, you have to consider the fact that maybe your partner finds a lot of opportunities outside your marriage.
Assuming that an open relationship means no rules would be a huge danger. You have to trust each other and part of that trust is establishing boundaries. For me, opening our relationship has deepened my commitment to my husband, and it has helped me confront my insecurities. Somehow, seeing that my husband has the option to be with anyone he wants but still chooses to make a life with me has helped me realize how much he loves me.
Franca: Being in open marriage is just about good sex
My husband and I have been married for eleven years and we just opened our marriage up to dating other people three months ago and so far, so good. We got married right out of the university, and while we still love each other, there was that sexual aspect that died years ago.
My husband and I have tried everything from marriage and sex therapy to scheduled date nights, but nothing seemed to bring that spark back. For us, the other partners are just about sex. Right now, it feels like we work better as friends and partners trying to raise our two kids, although to be honest, I’m starting to get a little jealous.
I worry that he might fall in love with someone else even though we agreed it was just to satisfy our sexual urges. We are also careful about what we say in front of the children. They’re still young. In time, we may tell them if we are still open. We decided not to share details about who we were meeting and what we were doing with each other, but would be transparent if one of us had questions.
Pamela: Attempting open relationship was the worst thing for my relationship
I was the one who convinced my boyfriend of three years that we should try an open relationship. We were both very into our careers at the time, and it was very hard for both of us to prioritize our relationship.
Since we knew we couldn’t put as much into the relationship as we could when we first started dating, we agreed that we would be together, but allowed to see other people at the same time. We thought it would ensure all our needs were being met and we wouldn’t be disappointing one another. Looking back, we should have just broken up and saved ourselves all the trouble.
Even though I talked him into it, I was the one who became so jealous, I couldn’t take it. I found myself spending more time interrogating him about the girls he was seeing than I ever did working on our own relationship. I had a single one-night stand, and I felt awful about it. He, meanwhile, slept with at least six other girls. After only seven months of attempting an open relationship, we decided it would be best if we split up. I haven’t heard from him since then. That was over a year ago.
Mary: Seeing other men filled a temporary void in my marriage
I was in a short-term open relationship for four years with my husband of ten years. He’s an engineer and when he got promoted, he started travelling often for a long time. He was the one who suggested the concept because he knew how hard it was for me to be alone all the time. I would often get bored and lonely, missing that companionship whenever he was gone for months. I also knew he was having sex with other women while he was away.
We agreed that I could ‘hang out’ with other men as long as there was no actual sex. We called it ‘hanging out’ rather than dating because I wasn’t looking for a new relationship, just male companionship. It was weird at first, going out with another man, and I kept feeling like I was going behind my husband’s back.
A few times, I ran into friends while out with someone I was casually seeing. I often had to lie to them about who the other man was because my husband and I didn’t tell any friends or family about our agreement. Regardless of the social taboo, an open relationship helped fill a void and I completely stopped seeing others when his travel stopped.
I really think an open relationship can work and help couples, but it depends on their personalities and the strength of the relationship. Make sure both of you are 100 percent okay with it, or I could see how jealously it could easily destroy the relationship.