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Do Successful Open Relationships Really Exist?

Or do they just make for good Netflix binging?

Over the last two weeks, my partner and I have been binging on Netflix’s ‘Wanderlust’. Spoiler alert (but not really), it’s about a couple who’ve been married for over 20 years who decide to ‘open’ their sex lives to other people. If you’ve not seen it yet, you absolutely should. Toni Collette is beyond brilliant. Collette aside, the show has prompted many an intriguing chat between my boyfriend and me. Could we ever have an open relationship? ‘Could’ aside – should a couple attempt to open themselves up to other people, strictly for sex?

While my partner and I have differing opinions on the topic – I think it can work depending on the couple, boyfriend not so much – there’s no right or wrong way for a couple to experience their own relationship. It is no one else’s business, after all.

But instead of wracking my brains as to whether or not I think an open relationship would be successful within my own life, I took to Reddit to hear what couples who have actually done it have to say.

Here’s what real people have to say about open relationships

1 My wife didn’t really come to terms with being bisexual until after we were married

‘And began the conversation with the idea that she was interested in exploring a relationship of some sort with another woman (no one in particular, just in general). Being the super-evolved and high-minded man that I am, my first reaction was, ‘Awesome.’

She went on to have a long-term relationship with a truly wonderful woman that I hope remains in our lives in some capacity for a long time. As part of that process, my wife realized that her feelings for her girlfriend didn’t take anything away from her feelings for me and we began the discussion of an open/polyamorous relationship. I won’t lie, it wasn’t always easy. When she entered into a long-term relationship with another man I had to be very frank with myself about how that made me feel and why I initially felt it was somehow ‘different.’

I cannot echo enough what has already been said about communication. If you can’t be open and honest about your feeling and expectations, it’s NOT going to work. If you are, though, it can really bring you closer to a partner. It’s been going on five years now and I love our situation. I don’t feel like there’s anything I can’t talk to my wife about, which is tremendously empowering.’ [Via]

2 I was an open relationship with my last SO

‘Things went okay, we did break up later for unrelated reasons but I don’t think I’d do it again. Nothing bad came of it, but I think I’m a one girl kind of guy to be honest.’ [Via]

3 We started our relationship open

‘We both have the ideas that people aren’t meant to only see or have sex with one person for their entire lives. It doesn’t work for all, but it works for us.

The key is COMMUNICATION. As with any relationship, really. We also have separate partners, but our own place and that is only for us, we play elsewhere. We Both know the address of the place that is being played at, in the event of an emergency. And we talk about it all. You don’t always have to go into detail, and this is not what I mean when I say we talk about it, but we make sure that both of us are in good head spaces and someone isn’t feeling neglected. I love my boyfriend, with all my heart, and I’m going to marry him. But it’s natural to want/need attention from others as well, at least to him and I.

I am so much happier coming home, even after playing with someone else, because I know my love is waiting for me, and the freedom of being truly who I am and no secrets or drama, it’s almost impossible to describe.

Disclaimer though, BOTH parties have to equally want an open relationship to make it work. One-sided can be very hazardous to the other’s mental health if it is not the goal (i.e. cuckholding etc).

I wish you all the luck to find someone that makes you feel free and happy, whether this type of relationship works for you or not.’ [Via]

4 It was pretty much a band-aid solution to the spark fading between us

‘I suggested it at our two-year mark, he said no at first but then changed his mind when things clearly weren’t getting any better. We were in an open relationship for a year before we mutually decided to end it. I still loved him very much for all three years but romantically it just wasn’t there anymore.’ [Via]

While I’m certainly not an expert, I get the feeling that the success of an open relationship depends on two things. The reason behind it, and the level of communication and honesty showed throughout it. While some saw it as a last-ditch attempt to resuscitate a dying relationship, others feel that it strengthens a bond which is already exceptionally solid. I stand by my gut feeling, which tells me that open relationships can work, maybe just not for everyone.
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