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Open up: Do we need a new take on ‘happily ever after’?

Open up: Do we need a new take on ‘happily ever after’?

The first time I heard the phrase ‘open relationship’ I cringed at the thought of it. Why on earth would someone want to be in a relationship and at the same time what to hook up with someone else?

At that time I was bathing in the glorified illusion of my morality and the ideological deceit of ‘happily ever after’. I won’t try to claim I can speak much about morality, but hey, I was in a monogamous relationship for one year.

I will never try it again.

I have nothing against people choosing to stay monogamous. However what I have issue with is that we are made to believe this is the only option when it comes to relationships.

University of Missouri experts say ‘consensual amorous relationships exist when two individuals mutually and consensually understand a relationship to be romantic and/or sexual in nature’.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines relationships as ‘an emotional and sexual association between two people’.

So it is clear that relationships are expected to be consensual, mutual, emotional or sexual with the possibility of romance. Things are not always that simple.

I can’t say if my parents’ relationship has any of the components listed apart from ‘sexual’. My mum is the second wife in a polygamous relationship. So she has no choice in that relationship. Neither does my step mum who has to put up with sharing her husband.

Of course, our understanding of relationships has evolved. As I said I was brought up in a polygamous relationship – not the best all round and to be fair most of us would have preferred something different.

However, I was also made aware of the ‘better option’. The ideal and desirable option the Bible would have us believe in. Monogamy.

In that belief system, the concept of monogamy was created in the Garden of Eden when God created Adam and Eve (actually I don’t do that creationist bullshit, but for the sake of this argument I will stick to the story).

The idea was that Adam would love Eve till death parted them and Eve would submit herself to Adam and worship him. I can guess what many women reading this will think and, yes, I agree completely.

However the concept of monogamy has come under threat as humans have developed a taste for sexual freedom and liberation. More and more people irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity are experimenting with different types of relationship.

For me, the whole idea of relationship is to find someone you can relate with, emotionally and psychologically and at the same time make love to. But beyond this is also the need for sexually experimentation with someone that is not your partner.

Mind my careful use of the terms ‘make love’ and ‘sexual experimentation’. The two are not the same and they do not achieve the same result. The desire to have ‘trusting’ sex outside of relationship has helped many people find trust, love and even live happily ever after.

Apart from monogamy and polygamy, more and more people are redefining the scope of their relationship. We are experiencing a new trend of negotiating your partnerships or whatever you want to call it.

Open relationships are built around the understanding of the people involved. It is not a straight -jacket alternative to monogamy or polygamy. There are different types and they are always designed to fit the people involved.

Personally, my decision to go into an open relationship is built on trust. I know many will question what I mean by trust when I can still meet other people. But many people in monogamous relationships constantly live with the burden to prove of faithfulness, even when there is no need to question the other person.

For many people I have met, the reality of having the opportunity to meet other people is just enough. It is mostly like a blank cheque, many never use it.

If like me you have been watching too much of UK sit-com Threesome you will at least understand the concept of open relationship. However in reality that is not what it is about.

As I don’t have the pleasure of writing a book on sexual behavior here, I will just give an introduction to types of open relationship.

Having open discussion on what should be the modus operandi is a common feature of open relationship. The couples are matured enough to set out how rules.

The rules can include inviting a third person to the bedroom, while others prefer play alone. To others, it will be the pleasure of voyeurism.

In the case of ‘slave and master’ or ‘BDSM’ sex, open relationships are about sexual pleasure.

To others that have been in relationship for a long time, it is a way of re-energizing and reactivating their sex life. The key thing is that in open relationship there are some healthy distractions.

Open relationship is not what many people think it is. For example, I strongly suspect the risk of a break up in open relationship is not as high as those in monogamous one, though I cannot prove this. However, many people I know that are in open relationship have been together for more than 10 years.

More on the positive side, open relationships create a very healthy relationship between the people involved. There is no fear of break up, or guilt for ‘cheating’.

I am not recommending open relationship to everybody. You may not need it. But if if you are considering it or finding your over-glorified monogamy frustrating and confusing, why not spice up your love life?

The bottom line is, there is more to relationships than aspiring to the illusion of ‘happily ever after’ built on lies and deceits.