It’s been a myth since hippies experimented with alternative lifestyles in the late 1960s: the open relationship. But what does that really mean? Which problems are better solved within such a partnership and which ones are new? Is it possible to raise children within such a framework of relationships and how to fight jealousy? CarlMarie has followed in the footsteps of a modern phenomenon.
Many men and women consider monogamy rare or even unnatural. Love, others think, should be multiplied rather than divided. And some are just curious about what it would be like if they could open up and liven up their own relationship a bit by bringing in other partners.
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Many want, but few dare
They are far from alone with these thoughts and fantasies. Several studies and surveys confirm one picture: around a third of all men and at least 15 percent of all women are fascinated by the idea of an open relationship. On the other hand, only about five percent of all couples actually live it out. This is hardly surprising, because the idea of an open relationship is linked to a paradox: most women and men would like to have an unlimited number of sexual and emotional partners in their lives. But they don’t want to share them.
This makes it clear that only very few dare to give up a lot of security and make such a partnership really come true. On the way to such a – possibly eye-opening – life experiment, there is only one major opponent to be defeated: jealousy
What exactly is an open relationship?
Of course, to be honest, it’s impossible to narrow down what is supposed to be “open” by definition. What constitutes an open relationship in the end depends above all on the perspectives of the people involved. In general, however, it can be said that open relationships reject the concept of monogamy and thus unconditional emotional and sexual fidelity. However, in all forms there is always a core couple who maintain a real relationship, but more or less openly accept various additional participants within their partnership.
Probably the oldest form of open relationship is the so-called menage a trois, the love triangle, in which one partner (in the past it was always the more financially independent) maintains relationships with two partners, while these maintain no relationship with each other. This form of living together was mostly reserved for artists and was hardly imaginable for normal mortals. In 1972 the American writer couple Nena and George O’Neill published the book “Open Marriage”. The popularity led to alternative lifestyles also being discussed in TV discussions as a result.
Today there are different forms of open relationships. This includes the so-called “swinging” in which heterosexual couples try out male-female and female-female sex constellations with other heterosexual couples. Polyamory, which has recently been increasingly discussed, is also possible. Here even the primary couple is rejected, the LGBT community is included and numerous participants have completely equal emotional and sexual relationships.
In the second part on this topic, we at CarlMarie discuss the possible differences between the open relationship in the classic sense and polyamory . In the end, there is now a structure for going out, especially in metropolitan areas, which includes sex-positive parties and other varieties in which the traditional ideas of couple relationships hardly seem to play a role anymore.
How does an open relationship work and am I even the type for it?
If you want to try an open relationship, you first have to ask yourself: “Do I really want to share my partner with other people and if so, to what extent and with what openness?” Some people have the desire to share almost everything, while others rather do so Self-centered and self-centered, wanting to live it all, but reluctant to sacrifice the long-term intimacy of their relationship for a transient sexual stimulus. Anyone who knows that they are more susceptible to jealousy will find it difficult to implement an open relationship on an equal footing.
The “dangerous” must be met without fear and without dependence
The open relationship has two important foundations: fixed rules and trust. Because every relationship, even an open one, needs a set of rules that applies to everyone involved. There is no real “right” and no real “wrong”. It is much more important that both partners are on the same side in all agreements. In any case, the areas to be regulated should include who is with whom, when and for how long. What happens when a closer emotional bond develops and how quickly the partner should be informed of current changes within the relationship model. Agreeing to these rules and agreements is crucial for both parties.
If power is unevenly distributed and, for example, one person wants multiple partners while the other person feels they can’t say no, the model is doomed to fail. Everyone involved should be able to make their own decisions right from the start, without being presented with a fait accompli. It also makes a positive contribution if all participants are free from the pressure of economic dependencies. Because these increase fear of loss and thus also aggression. The “dangerous” must be met without fear. Because no woman and no man in this world can be pushed or forced into a happy, healthy, open relationship.
What dangers lurk in the open relationship?
Most men and women are sailing in uncharted waters within an open relationship. There are no cross-generational models of experience and no traditional rules. It is all the more important that agreed rules can also be constantly adapted to reality. And that only works if the primary partners remain communicative and constantly share their worries and fears. It should also not be forgotten that couples in an open relationship are confronted with the undeniable advantages of monogamy. This includes the fact that monogamous women and men are demonstrably much more concerned with their children.
Another unexpected effect of the open relationship can be that people change when they come into contact with other people and their different perspectives and, for example, sexual preferences or means of communication and begin to discover other regions of their personality. This can lead to the balance within the open relationship shifting and established rules having to be renegotiated. At the end, each participant within the open relationship is asked to constantly formulate for themselves what priorities they set within their system of needs.
Can you raise children in an open relationship?
Basically, more adults who work harmoniously in raising children are more likely to have a positive effect on their development. More adults potentially means more time, more energy, more love, and more resources for the kids. Openness, solid communication skills, compassion and love are critical building blocks of good parenting. Here, too, it is of paramount importance that children do not get caught up in the millstones of conflicting interests and, moreover, are not confronted with lies and half-truths, but are confronted with great clarity with regard to the prevailing conditions.
This is the only way to ensure stable orientation without the famous “double binding”. A disadvantage of the open relationship is certainly that the children are not given as much time by an adult. To do this, they get to know several reference persons with different life models. This can lead to these children not only developing a different sex positivity, but also a greater respect for their own bodies and hearts as well as the bodies and hearts of others.
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