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Open or Closed?

Last week I posted my New List of things I was looking for in a man and a relationship.  And, not surprising, the item that got the most attention was #3, “If we are going to embark on a serious LTR then he’s gotta be open to talking about us having an . I am not convinced that works for everyone.  I’d rather have an open relationship than deal with issues of infidelity/sneaking around.”

This wasn’t the first time I’ve mentioned open relationships on the blog.  And every time I do there’s a reaction (YourTango had a story about an open marriage recently and it got over 200 comments.) So today I’m trying a poll to get at people’s real feelings about them.   Because clearly people are interested.  But maybe it’s not the good kind of interest?

What do you think/feel about open relationships?

  • I’m a firm believer in monogamy. I think that couples should commit to one another and be faithful to that commitment. (71 votes)
  • I’m open to the idea of couples having ‘extra fun’ together (threesomes) but not the idea of my partner dating someone else. (41 votes)
  • I think I could be OK with it, if it were on a don’t ask/don’t tell basis. I wouldn’t want to know what my partner was doing. (8 votes)
  • I like the idea of open relationships and would want to be truthful with my partner about my extra activites and vice versa. (33 votes)
  • Other – please explain in the comments (11 votes)

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24 to “Open or Closed?”

  1. starangel82 says:

    I’m the monogamous type. I personally couldn’t be in an open relationship, but I don’t see anything wrong with those choose to be.

  2. AGirlNamedMe says:

    As someone with quite a bit of … uh … experience in a wide variety of relationships, I have come to understand that open relationships devalue everyone involved and devalue the relationship as a whole. I understand they can work, but for the most part – they don’t.

    I sound like I might be a prude. I’m not.


  3. onedatewonder says:

    I’m all for people doing whatever they’re comfortable and happy with. Personally, I require monogamy and a partner who feels the same. But I think whatever other people outside my own relationship choose to do is all good.

  4. drumdance says:

    I think open relationships are like cigarettes and cancer. There are people who can smoke until their 80 and never get cancer, but most people will.

    Likewise, open relationships seem like a fun idea and probably work for a small percentage of couples, but most will fail in the long run.

  5. Veka says:

    I consider a “relationship” as a relationship between 2 people. Why be in a relationship if you can’t be 100% devoted to that one other person? When you start adding 1 more person or 2 more people into the mix, it’s not really a “relationship” anymore, in MY opinion.

  6. AmbrosiaSpice says:

    I’ve been in an open relationship before — but it didn’t turn out well. I thought it was going fine — my boyfriend and I lived together, and I was dating a friend of my boyfriend’s. They discussed it first, had multiple discussions about it while we were dating, checking in with each other constantly about how they felt. So, on my end, things were fine.

    But then my boyfriend fell in love with MY good girl friend. I was ok with them dating — after all, I was dating his friend. But… she didn’t want that. She wanted to just be with him. So they both left.

    So… I think things can work out for a while, but I think open relationships have an expiration date, and it starts ticking the moment you start it, even if it goes wonderfully open and honest for a few months.

  7. Amber Ying says:

    Whatever works for people is whatever works.

    I’ve tried different relationship models, and I’ve learned that all types of relationships require work. You have to communicate, establish and maintain trust, be interested in and respectful towards everyone involved. In my experience, if the core relationship is strong, then an open relationship does not affect it. If it isn’t .. it becomes easy to neglect the relationship.

    Have the relationship you want, but don’t knock on those who have open relationships. A relationship is a personal contract that you establish between another person.

  8. Singlegal says:

    I tried the open marriage thing and that was, well, a fail (hence why I’m SingleGal). However, I think the concept of embarking on some sexual adventures with a willing partner could be interesting. I’m open to the possibility if it’s something done together.

  9. lorilori17 says:

    I’m a “whatever works for the people involved” vote :) I could see how an open relationship would work in one set of circumstances and not in another. It’s all about mutual respect and managing expectations, either way. If you can’t do those things, the relationship may not be that solid in the first place, before adding additional partners (or not) to the mix.

  10. Mhlia says:

    I voted “other” because I need monogamy. The thought of my husband with someone else or me being with someone else makes me feel kind of queasy. That said… if it truly works for others who am I to judge? I’m not convinced that everyone in an open situation is really in it whole-heartedly; but for those that are, more power to them.

  11. PiscesInPurple says:

    In theory I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with an open relationship. I know couples who make it work. But I sincerely doubt that I could.

  12. Simone Grant says:

    Hmmm. Lots of differing opinions here although the overwhelming one seems to be, “not for me but I won’t judge others”.

    Speaking up for the PRO side, I think Amber Ying makes a good point. That an open relationship requires that the core relationship be strong. And that relationships require a lot of hard work. Drumdance’s statement that most will fail in the long run seems to be a common (mis)perception. The reality is that the open relationships that fail probably would have failed if they remained monogamous.

  13. HollyPage says:

    Monogamy vs. non-monogamy, as many have noted in the comments, is up to the couple and what works for them. What I wonder about, though, is if non-monogamy is “trendy” right now, especially among urban intellectuals who want the comfort of a relationship but the excitement of single life? Since many people are buying houses and having babies much later (if at all), the lifestyle many couples lead lends itself to non-monogamy.

  14. drumdance says:

    The reality is that the open relationships that fail probably would have failed if they remained monogamous.

    It will take more than a blog poll to convince me of that. A major reason relationships fail is infidelity, which is a kind of emotional abuse. This is more likely to happen, even inadvertently, in an open relationship.

    Or another way of looking at it is, someone who wants an open relationships is more likely to get bored with any partner over the long term, and thus more likely to be in serial failed relationships.

    I’m much more sympathetic to the idea that most relationships shouldn’t be lifelong anyway than that open relationships are somehow healthier or no more likely to fail.

  15. sparklytosingle says:

    I love monogamy and want a monogamous relationship for myself. But I don’t have anything against open relationships for others if both people in the relationship are aware and on board with the plan. Not against it for everyone, just against it for myself.

  16. Hypatia says:

    I’m an “other”…. I don’t care what other people do. In “Theory” I’m open to an open relationship…. In practice? I’m the jealous type. I guess it would kind of fall under the “I don’t want to know about it.” but it would drive me crazy to both know & not know. So… I guess the answer, for me, is NO. Let’s break up first.

  17. Simone Grant says:

    As someone who’s had a couple of successful open relationships (and who knows people with successful open marriages), I have a hard time seeing them compared to infidelity. If both my partner and I know the rules, and we both choose – with open hearts and free will – to follow the rules, then there can be no infidelity. To me, an open relationship is the answer to infidelity. I will not tolerate being lied to, but my guy fucking someone else doesn’t bother me. I’m not suggesting this choice for anyone else, just saying that it works for a lot of people. Probably more than you realize as people don’t tend to advertise their “arrangements” to all of their friends. They don’t work- AT ALL- when one partner is agreeing half-heartedly to make the other happy. That’s when the dysfunction sets in.
    I did this survey because I was wondering about the recent popularity of the topic ( I couldn’t believe that piece got over 200 comments on Tango). Your theory is a good one. I’m also inclined to think that people are more sexually aware and inclined to ask for what they want/need out of a relationship. Sometimes that has to come from an extra person.

  18. cjw666 says:

    Your reply to drumdance: ABSOLUTELY! It’s not everyone’s “cup of tea”, but there is a lot more in an LTR than sex and, if it or anything else works for a particular couple then good luck to them, I say.

  19. Veka says:

    Hey Simone – This is a question of pure curiosity and in no way is intended to sound rude :) When you said “As someone who’s had a couple of successful open relationships…” Can you elaborate on that? Like, how do you deem them successful if you are no longer in the relationship? I’ve never really thought too much into this topic before since an open relationship is “not my cup of tea.” I am therefore very curious as to everyone’s thoughts. Thanks.

  20. Simone Grant says:

    Sure, they were successful in my eyes because that aspect of the relationship added to what we had and made us both happier. And when the relationship was over (I am not the kind of person who believes that every relationship should be destined for happily ever after) we split for reasons that had nothing to do with opting for an open relationship. Our problems/issues stemmed from much larger and more complicated issues that could not be healed or resolved and we parted ways. In one case the guy and I remained friends with benefits for a while.

    But again, I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. Just suggesting that some people might have preconceived notions that are offbase.

  21. Surishu says:

    I am not a fan of Monogamy.. but i dislike the use of the word OPEN.. that IMO leaves too much to randomness. While I am the queen of random, don’t like it in my lovelife.

    I am in favor of a committed relationship with more than one partner. Fidelity being important. SEMPER FI!!
    Currently, I’m testing out a relationship with a guy who feels that I’m enough for him, and another who’s wife is ok with him having ONE girlfriend. While I’m not friends with his wife, its because I’m really not a fan of females in general, not because there is any drama involved.

    There really isn’t anything open about this… no new pickups at the bar, no random strangers.. but also no sneaking around, or lying to each other. No “where were you and with whom?”

    We are working on making sure my “monogamous” friend is secure and comfortable with whats up, but as others pointed out…
    It takes work…
    It’s not for everyone, and insecurities, jealousies and possesivness are deal breakers.. but It works.
    And what one partner lacks in personality and interests, the other has; so I never feel like I am incomplete or unsatisfied.

  22. Simone Grant says:

    Welcome to the blog and thank you for your perspective on this. I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t get (and something I mentioned earlier) – open relationships or whatever term you prefer have RULES (rules decided upon by each couple, to their liking). And they only work when both partners adhere to the rules.

  23. Midlife Bachelor says:

    Serial monogamy – which means be with one and only one … until you can no longer stand them … then let them go, and date someone else monogamously.

    And if you cannot do that – then run for public office!

  24. he4she says:

    I have considered testing the waters of an open relationship.