Is it true that open relationships don’t work?
Why don’t some open relationships work, while others do? What do open relationships need to work out?
Curiously, many people in both polyamorous communities and the monogamous world believe open relationships don’t work, Their reasons are different, of course, but in a sense, they unexpectedly find common ground in the belief that open relationships are doomed or unethical.
6 Reasons Open Relationships Don’t Work
Relationship expert Neil Wilkie claims on Red Online that 92% of open marriages fail. It’s tough to get at other estimates or studies on this subject, but common wisdom seems to conclude that open relationships don’t usually work out.
Jealousy is usually cited as the number one reason that open relationships don’t work!
Monogamous people will say that jealousy is an expected emotion when intimacy between two is broken. Polyamorous people will say that jealousy needs to be overcome, and when intimacy is decentralized and equally divided with all partners, it can be controlled. But jealousy is usually at the crux of open relationship failure.
2. Loss of Intimacy
The idea of an open relationship might be to get more sex or to rejuvenate a stale relationship. But what often happens is that the connection that was there in the first place dissipates into thin air as neither partner are looking for solutions within the relationship but expecting them to materialize from outside.
3. Inexperience with Non-Monogamy
Many couples who open their relationship are new to non-monogamy or polyamory. If your relationship is the guinea pig for your non-monogamous experience, it might be the very thing to suffer. Many couples view non-monogamy as a way of saving or reviving their relationship, but since they aren’t experienced navigating these emotions and experiences, it can backfire miserably.
4. Many Open Relationships Do Not Have a Strong Foundation
Consider that most monogamous couples who decide to open the relationship are doing so in order to revive or save an unsuccessful relationship. Opening it may not be the reason it doesn’t work, but part of the trajectory!
There are of course some relationships that are going along great and both parties find it would be hot to open the door and they feel compersion for their partner and get aroused by the extra sex and the relationship gets even better. It may be rare, but it exists. An interesting study would look at what kind of open relationships don’t work—are they just the relationships that weren’t working in the first place?
5. Poor Communication
Whether a couple was monogamous or polyamorous to begin with may matter less in an open relationship than communication. If you can’t express yourself and find the right words to show your real feelings, much is open to misinterpretation.
6. Dishonesty and Broken Trust
Many open relationships don’t work because there is a breakdown of trust due to deceptive behavior. Open relationships are intended to combat dishonesty. Since you’re “allowed” to sleep with other people, there’s nothing to lie about or conceal, right?
But it can be tricky to express your real feelings or to risk hurting your lover, and new hormones can make someone reckless.
What Open Relationships Need to Work
For open relationships to work, and some open relationships do work great, the following are very important.
1. Solid Foundation
A broken relationship is not magically going to work when you start sleeping with more women, sorry! Open relationships that work are healthy, secure, trusting, and loving to begin with.
Couples who are capable of really being honest about their feelings and desires, even when the truth is awkward, painful or uncomfortable will better be able to navigate the ups and downs of an open relationship.
3. Great Communication
If you can keep talking to the person who is most important to you, you can make an open relationship work!
4. Secure Personality and Emotional Control
If you are able to maturely navigate your basest emotions and not just blame your partner when you feel jealous or uncomfortable, you will be able to handle an open relationship better than someone who can’t control their negative emotions.
5. Prior Successful Experience with Polyamory
Many open relationships don’t work simply because the lovers involved are new to sharing their partners or having more partners themselves. They may feel conflicted or guilty and haven’t learned to handle these emotions yet, whether their source is personal or socially inflicted values.
Are you in an open relationship or tried to have one? Please share your experience!