I Don’t Get Open Relationships—If You Can’t Be With One Person, Just Be Single!

Nearly half of people in America would consider an open relationship, according to a study by Avvo. While more lax relationship arrangements are becoming more and more popular these days, I just don’t get the logic behind it. If you can’t be

  1. It can be a copout. There are some people who turn to open relationships for all the wrong reasons. Enter “failed” monogomists. These are people who get into open relationships after having tried to commit to a monogamous relationship and not being able to stop themselves from cheating, according to an article in Psychology Today. So instead of working on being committed to someone and growing as a person, they just turn to open relationships? It feels too damn convenient!
  2. It’s a safety net. I totally get that both people in a relationship consent to opening things up and having sex with others, but then why stay in the relationship? Is it just a safety net, a soft place to fall when things go wrong?
  3. It’s selfish. You want to sleep with other people but not leave your relationship? Geez, might as well have your cake and eat it too! Why don’t you just remain single so you can sleep with as many people you want instead of having an almost-but-not-quite-committed relationship?
  4. You’re really not committed. I know an open relationship varies from cheating, but come on! Just the fact that you and your partner are having sex with other people means that you’re not committed to each other, no matter what you say. If you were, you wouldn’t need to look outside of the relationship.
  5. You’re causing drama. Open relationships are often glamorized as these chilled, happy setups. Sooner or later, drama will come. It might be because of someone outside of the relationship or your partner’s inability to stick to the open relationship rules you’ve set, for example. It’s naive to think you can avoid drama. If you really want to, stay single.
  6. Your relationship isn’t that great. Don’t you want a partner who wants you to be exclusive? Don’t you want a partner who would be jealous at the thought of you being with someone else? You might say no or that your relationship makes you happy, but then what do you really have going for you if you need external benefits?
  7. How is it different from multi-dating? Being in an open relationship is pretty much the same thing as dating multiple people in a casual way. There’s no way you can have strong commitment if you’re sleeping with other people, and just because you say that your partner is your favorite one to be with, who’s to say that couldn’t change?
  8. If you can’t be exclusive, don’t have a partner. You might love your partner and want them in your life, but if you’re in search of other experiences and sex with other people, then perhaps there’s a hole in your relationship that you can’t seem to fill. If that’s the case, why be in an open relationship? It’s really a downgrade from a committed relationship.
  9. Open relationships are not free. Some people claim that they love open relationships because they have greater freedom. Really? Seems to me that open relationships have just as many (if not more) rules than monogamous ones. Couples need to determine acceptable and unacceptable behavior, what kinds of relationships are fine to have outside of the relationship (for instance, emotional ones might be a no-no), and so on. Hmmm, open relationships aren’t looking all that mellow, huh?
  10. “Sex is just physical” is a myth. There’s no way that having sex with other people will always just be a physical satisfaction. Sex can feel really emotionally satisfying – it makes you feel things and that’s why it’s so awesome. Meaningless sex is possible, but sex that’s completely emotionless? I doubt it. Even if you’re not feeling anything for the other person, you’re still feeling something about the experience.
  11. There’s always the risk of something more developing. Sometimes sex can lead to feelings for the other person. What happens then? Wouldn’t it just be easier not to be in a relationship at all so that you can take charge of those romantic opportunities without causing so many problems in your life?
  12. You can’t really express yourself. An important part of a healthy relationship is being able to feel things and express yourself. An open relationship sabotages that from happening. You might fall hard for your partner and want a committed relationship but not say anything out of fear of rocking the boat. Or, you might feel jealous about your partner’s sexual escapades. You’re not a robot – you’re going to feel things, which can have huge consequences.
  13. There’s such a thing as TMI. One of the benefits of open relationships is the ability of both partners to communicate their honest feelings. Great. So your partner might come to you and say, “Honey, I’m feeling a bit bored. Maybe we should spice things up with other people.” Okay, why not just break up then? In a real relationship, people spice things up with each other, not reach to people outside of the relationship.
  14. It won’t make your relationship better. Some might say that being in an open relationship can make a couple’s bond stronger. Perhaps having sex with other people will improve sex with your partner or having attention from other men will boost your confidence. But really, it’s just not worth all that can go wrong and if you don’t care about the potentially harmful consequences, then you don’t give a crap about your relationship.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.