What Is an Open Relationship?
In an open relationship there is mutual consent and acceptance from both parties to engage in sexual activities with others. In an open relationship, one person may have what is called the “primary partner”. This is the person to whom they commit to emotionally and sexually. The people in the open relationship may agree to have multiple non-monogamous sexual partners. But the caveat is, there must be no romantic involvement. This is the main difference between an open relationship and polyamory.
Individuals in open relationships can set parameters as they like. However, they must uphold honesty in their relationship. Honesty, in fact, is the single most important value in any open relationship. People who enter open relationships must be honest about their sexual needs. They must also be able to communicate the boundaries they want to observe so they can feel safe and reassured.
“Swinging” is a form of open relationship. It describes relationships in which the people involved, called “swingers,” engage in sexual activities with other people in parties as a form of recreational or social activity. Much like an open relationship, swinging requires setting of boundaries. The degree of involvement and intimacy differs with every sexual encounter.
Why Choose an Open Relationship?
There are many reasons for entering open relationships. An open relationship, for one, is a great avenue for exploring one’s sexuality with another person outside of the relationship. Some people may also engage in open relationships because of a sexual mismatch or incompatibility with their romantic partner. For example, one partner may have a particular kink that the other partner is not aroused by. Or one partner might have no interest in sex, a sexual identity termed asexuality, and the other partner wants to feel sexual satisfaction without losing the romantic connection. Lastly, like in polyamory, some people in an open relationship seek the stability of a long-term romantic relationship while being able to explore their sexuality with new partners.