The term ‘open relationships’ has taken India by storm now that we are being exposed to western culture more than ever. It is a recent concept that is being accepted by several couples these days. And thus, researchers are trying to figure out how healthy and complicated open relationships are in comparison to traditional relationships. After studying a sizeable number of individuals who are in open relationships, it was found that they are much less complicated than they appear to the outsiders. In fact, another surprising revelation from the study was that individuals in open relationships are happier than those in the traditional, monogamous relationships.
So, if that piqued your interest even a tad bit, here are 15 real facts about open relationships that were found in the recent studies conducted in the years 2017 and 2018 that would interest you all the more. But first, let us understand what open relationships are.
What is an Open Relationship?
In a recent interview, Deepika Padukone revealed that she proposed the idea of open relationships to Ranveer Singh at the beginning of their relationship. She explained that she was “exhausted” after being in several failed serious relationships so, she decided that she did not want to give anyone her hundred percent and actually try casual dating for the first time. But even after having the freedom of doing it, she did not ever go ahead with it. Because she was happy with Ranveer Singh. And there we have it.
The entire concept of open relationships revolves around not being satisfied with just one person. This may not necessarily mean that you are not happy with them. It may just mean that you don’t like confining yourself to one person. Perhaps you want to explore but also have someone who has your back. And there is nothing wrong with that if you can find someone who thinks the way you do and wants the same things.
An open relationship allows you to have more than one partner with whom you can engage in casual physical or sexual activities. However, the catch is that both you and your partner(s) should be willing for it. It is cheating if your primary partner feels that they don’t want you to be involved with anybody else and you still do it. Not only this but also there are rules for being in a consensual open relationship. I have discussed them below to help you better understand this emerging concept.
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Rules of an open relationship
- You need to plan your schedule because you must know how much time you should give to each of your partners. Couples have strict rules for spending time with their primary partner. Regardless of how many partners you have, your primary partner should be your priority. Also, you have the same responsibility toward them as in a traditional relationship.
- To make the primaries’ relationship more exclusive, some couples set boundaries for sex, too. This means that there are certain things that both individuals are allowed to do and certain things that are not allowed. You can’t do everything with your new partners when it comes to sex. Some things are off-limits. For example, you may be allowed to have oral sex with your partner but not engage in intercourse. While this does not apply to all couples, some believe in making their own rules.
- You have to be absolutely honest with your partners. There is high satisfaction among couples who are in open relationships. The reason for this could be honesty. Couples have strong communication in this kind of relationships because they believe in sharing everything with their partners. Right from how many people they are seeing to how often they are seeing them and what sort of chemistry they have with the other partners.
- While open relationships are all about being with more than one partner, you are not allowed to get romantically involved with anyone other than your primary. The whole concept of open relationships is based on casual sex with multiple people while being in a serious relationship. But you ought to ask your partner for their consent.
1. Only 4% of the people claimed to be in an open relationship
Out of the total sample studied in the year 2018, only 4% of the individuals reported that they were in an open relationship. And although this study was conducted in the United States, we can still apply it here in India. We are becoming more sensitive and open toward the different kinds of relationships in India, thanks to the current chief justices from the Supreme Court (who rock, by the way).
The results from the research show how people are trying to make their own rules and live their lives on their terms. They are not shying away from embracing who they are at the cost of hurting someone else. People, now, are becoming increasingly conscious about the decisions they are taking when it comes to relationships. Things are slowly becoming more consensual than ever.
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2. There is a major difference between an open relationship and polyamorous relationships
Most people tend to confuse between these two, and it is a pretty common mistake. An open relationship involves multiple partners, but these are just casual affairs. There has to be a primary partner in each open relationship. Moreover, falling in love with anyone other than the primary partner is absolutely wrong and unacceptable. The best example of this is the swingers. They have casual physical acts with other couples without having any strings attached.
On the other hand, you can have more than one romantic commitment in a polyamorous relationship. It is acceptable to fall in love with more than one partner. As long as it is consensual and everyone involved mutually agrees on it, it is okay. In fact, India was one of the first countries in the world to accept polyamory. Remember those ancient kings that we hear about who had 40 wives and nearly 50 children? While that is polygamy, the kings did fall in love with more than one woman, and their other wives were okay with it, which made it polyamory. So, if you think India is not very welcoming of such arrangements, you may want to take a look at the ancient Indian scriptures.
3. They are mostly present in sexual minorities
Believe it or not, heterosexual relationships are way more conservative than those of the sexual minorities. Polyamory is found chiefly among homosexuals and other sexual minorities. There is no definitive reason for this, but it could be said that gay and lesbians are more accepting of embracing who you are, regardless of what it is. (Unless it is incest. Don’t support incest, guys. Apart from being illegal in practically every part of the world, it also has dire consequences).
On a side note – I am proud of our sexual minorities. They are welcoming of all kinds of people. There is no judgement or hatred. Their motto is pretty clear; love and let love! It is perfect because there is less interference.
4. People are more satisfied with their primary partner in open relationships
If we take a look at Pornhub’s recent data on the porn viewing habits of Indians, you will notice that they are not something that is either natural or normal. India holds the third position in the list of countries with the highest porn viewership. People switch to porn when they do not enjoy regular sex in real life. Porn provides an escape to release your sexual energy safely. It is clear that more people are becoming sexually frustrated, given the stats. Again, the reason for this could be anything. Furthermore, if we observe carefully, we can see that people have been watching a variety of porn, including lesbians, Asians, and different relations, too. This proves that people require variety in their sex lives.
Open relationships offer individuals a chance to be with different partners. They do not confine you to one particular person. So, you tend to be happier with your primary partner because they are not restricting you. You can be with more than one person but can’t fall in love. And humans are made for something like that. Compare this situation to the attendance criteria in colleges, and you will know what I am talking about. It is only when the college makes it compulsory for you to attend lectures regularly that you don’t feel like going to college. If there are no restrictions, you are happy to attend the lectures because there is no police officer over you who is forcing you to do something.
Remember, only when there are rules that you feel like breaking them. No rules, no rebels!
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5. You can only be romantic with your primary partner
As you read it above, being in an open relationship does not give you a pass to be in love with more than one person. You can fall in love and be committed only to the primary partner. In fact, you need to have the consent of your primary partner if you want to be physical with other people. And only when they approve can you involve a new person in your relationship.
Love is the only element that poses as a restriction in open relationships. And people are actually happy with this rule. Because that is the only thing that helps the relationship succeed and makes it special for the primary couple. That is why more people prefer being in an open relationship rather than a polyamorous one.
6. People in open relationships are more likely to exercise safer sex
The same studies reported another something that came as quite a surprise. The studies concluded that people in open relationships are more likely to exercise safer sex than those who are in traditional relationships. And yet again, there was no concrete reason for this either. But this surely provides some evidentiary support against the popular fact about homosexuals being more exposed to unsafe sex. Did you know that homosexuals are not allowed to donate blood in many places because it is just presumed that they must be having a lot of unsafe sexual activities? It is also assumed that this is likely to contaminate their blood and make it impure. That’s total BS!
The studies found that more than half of the individuals involved in an open relationship tend to use condoms and have a lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. This may be because they tend to be extra conscious as they have more sexual partners than usual.
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7. They have better communication
This is not a study per se but a general observation. Couples involved in an open relationship have way better communication than those involved in a traditional relationship. There is a rational explanation behind why this happens. Individuals in an open relationship have to take consent of their partners before doing anything. Things like going on a date, finding a new partner, and even engaging in a physical act with someone new requires permission from the primary partner. Hence, they are obliged to exchange every little detail with each other. We don’t have the confirmation on this though.
Besides, I have read about countless couples who actually help their partners pick new partners for themselves. They even help them get ready for the dates. And while not everyone will approve of this, these couples claim that it is something that helps them become even stronger. So, whatever suits them.
8. An open relationship is not a license to sleep around with every person in sight
Yes, we are finally at this point. Open relationships do not provide you with the opportunity to sleep with anyone you want. In fact, couples who are in open relationships feel agitated when outsiders think that. They feel that their relationship sounds impure with that notion. And no couple should feel that about their relationship.
There are two types of open relationships.
- An open relationship with a set number of partners
- An open relationship with as many partners as you can mutually agree on
Most couples prefer having an open relationship with only as many as 3 to 4 partners as they feel that is enough for their needs. But some couples do not have a set number, and they accept as many partners as they desire.
9. You can’t escape from your responsibilities
Another misconception that people have about open relationships is that you can get away from fulfiling your responsibilities. It is believed that those in open relationships don’t have to play a definitive role. But the truth is that they are as committed in their relationships as the people in traditional relationships. If anything, they have more responsibilities because they are involved with multiple partners. So, they are required to fulfil their duty toward each one. Also, they have to keep their primary partner happy and satisfied so that they don’t feel left out or neglected. Besides, they enjoy the same routine as others. Dates, family get-togethers, trips and anything else that you can think of, it is all the same.
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10. Open relationships require a lot of discipline
This one is kind of self-explanatory. As humans, we tend to get attached to the people that we engage in physical or sexual acts with. Since open relationships are not for fun, it is extremely important for everyone involved to maintain a certain discipline. Open relationships are strictly for exploring and meeting your sexual needs. Therefore, they must be casual. You can’t have any romantic involvements.
Furthermore, you have to exercise safe sex at all times. You can’t be responsible for spreading any sexually transmitted diseases or infections. So, it is important that you use contraceptive devices wisely. Apart from these, your partners can’t have other partners outside your knowledge. Again, this is to keep things safe. Lastly, you should be honest about everything you do. You can’t have any secrets from your partners.
11. They require a high level of maturity
It is not easy to see your partner go on a date with someone else in your presence. Also, it is tough to accept the fact that your partner is sexually engaging with people other than you. All this requires you to be incredibly mature. You can’t act on your jealousy because everything is consensual. So, if you tend to be possessive in a relationship, open relationships may not be your cup of tea. Additionally, as I have mentioned a thousand times before in this article, you are not allowed to be attached to every person you get romantically involved with. Thus, if you are naive enough to fall in love easily, an open relationship is not something that you would approve of.
12. People in an open relationship do get jealous
Surprise! People in open relationships have feelings. While writing this article, I came across people who had shared their experience of being in an open relationship. They explained how their relationship is different yet very similar to traditional relationships. And one thing that hit me the most was that they all agreed to have been jealous of their partner seeing other people. I realised that these couples were no different. What is different about them is that they know exactly what they want and they are willing to go out and get it.
It requires courage to go out in the world and be different because you would not have it any other way. They know that they would never be happy with only one partner so instead of disappointing their partner or being unfaithful to them, they prefer being in an open relationship. And maybe it is not for everyone, but I can totally see where they are coming from.
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13. Individuals involved in open relationships have fewer commitment issues
One of the things that were analysed in the studies was that the individuals who reported being in an open relationship showed fewer signs of commitment issues. They were secure about their relationship. They were extremely sure of who they were with and what they were doing. The studies found that these individuals completely accepted the fact that they were committed to their partners and would not have it any other way. This was perhaps because they were incredibly satisfied with their relationship. And since they were happy with their partners, they were less afraid of committing to them.
14. You don’t rely on just one person for everything
After reading about open relationships for nearly three days, I found an interesting reason for why individuals preferred open relationships over traditional relationships. People don’t like being too clingy because they feel that it ruins relationships. Also, they don’t like relying on one person for all their needs.
You are required to fulfil all your needs through one partner in a monogamous relationship. This means that you have only one person who is your best friend, emotional support and sexual partner. And if they are not able to fulfil even one role, the relationship loses its balance. Couples in open relationships feel that rather than burdening a single person for all their needs, they should engage with multiple partners who can all play different roles. This makes the relationship less tedious, and your life does not revolve around only one person.
15. Open relationships are not for everyone
Throughout the blog, I have probably mentioned it more than a few times that open relationships are not for everyone. Now that we have discussed some of the most real and interesting facts about open relationships, it is clear that such an arrangement is not a vain one. It is not a cheap escape, either. Open relationships are a real thing. They have rational rules. These are rules that all the partners decide mutually. In fact, you would be surprised to know that various studies prove why humans are not made for monogamy. So, if anything, open relationships are technically more natural than traditional relationships.