The Goose and the Gander: Who are open relationships for and is it ever a good idea to invest in one?

By Rosie Alger and Dan Teano
Opinion Editor and Lifestyle Editor

Rosie says…

Open relationships are a complicated arrangement that not everybody can handle. If not everyone involved really thinks that monogamy is for them, then an open relationship can be a great way to be with someone you really care for, while still being true to your own relationship needs. However, if one person convinces the other to open a relationship that was previously closed, or if everyone not involved is completely sure and excited by the idea, then these types of arrangements can lead to disaster.

If deep down you want monogamy, you are only hurting yourself and your partner by agreeing to let others enter into your relationship. You will end up with trust issues, and you will begin a cycle of deceit. On the other side of the coin, no one should ever commit to a monogamous relationship unless it is what they really want. Nothing is worse than finding out your partner is not as serious about the relationship as you are, and breaking any promise, including that of monogamy, shows a major lack of respect for the bonds of the relationship.

As is my advice for any romantic endeavor, honesty and straightforwardness is key. If you really care about the person, tell them how you feel. For any relationship to work, open or otherwise, everyone involved has to be on the same page, and there needs to be trust. Neither can happen if you don’t talk it out.

One last piece of advice: don’t worry yourself over other people’s relationships. If you have a friend in an open relationship that you don’t think is working, or if you think that they should really break up with their monogamous significant other and play the field more, keep it to yourself. Helping someone in a harmful situation is one thing, but assuming you know more about someone else’s intentions or agreements with their partner is another thing.

Everyone is different and has their own ways of showing love and trust, so respect your friends’ romantic and sexual decisions even if they differ from your own.

Dan says…

In 2018, we’ve finally realized that love takes all forms—no longer is it strictly exclusive to a man and woman of the same race, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. While most of us have accepted that love is colorblind and gender neutral, a few of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around the idea of love being open.

Nowadays, it seems like the number of open relationships are increasing, or, at least. the discussions about them have. While some are quick to say it’s because millenials are sex-obsessed, it might just be that hookups are more accessible through dating apps like Bumble and Tinder. Regardless of the reasons behind its popularity, it’s still important to consider what an open relationship ought to look like, and when it is viable to invest in one.

When I asked my friends about their thoughts on open relationships, most of them laughed it off as “not a real thing.” One friend said that “relationships entail commitment, fidelity, and trust;” another friend said that “relationships can be open, but how are you supposed to close them up afterwards?”

While there are many types of relationships, each type operates on a set of agreed upon expectations. Whether the relationship is professional, platonic, or romantic, there’s an established code of conduct that each stakeholder is trusted to not break. In an open relationship, the underlying expectation that binds the two people is non-committal; at each person’s will, they can date whoever, whenever, and wherever. As with any contract, the probability of an open relationship lasting depends on how effectively the expectations have been conveyed, as well as each person’s commitment to adhering to them. However, isn’t it a bit strange to commit to something that doesn’t require full commitment? How is someone supposed to invest in another person if their intention is to explore other options? Maybe open relationships are for people who don’t think they’re emotionally fit enough for commitment—yet, as stated before, every relationship requires some level of commitment.

It’s very likely that my opinion on open relationships has been jaded by personal experience; every time I considered having one, it was because my partner and I doubted how much we wanted to invest in each other. In short, we were unsure if we truly liked each other. If anything, we were only borderline interested, and we were more intrigued by the idea of having someone we could fall back on for emotional and physical pleasure. And that’s what open relationships are to me: they’re lackluster commitments made by people who want to play around, but still want to use their partner to avoid the feeling of being alone.

If you want someone, it only makes sense to want the whole of them. Demanding and reciprocating bits and pieces is a disguised excuse to exploit someone for the emotional stability you fail to give yourself. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I hold on to the idea that love is only meant for those who dare to take a chance with one person.

Love is colorblind, money-blind, and gender-blind. Certainly, love does not have to conform to societal norms, but love fails to be love when it fails to be real.

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