Polyamory vs. Open Relationships: 3 Things You Need to Know

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In our day and age, love relationships are continuing to grow and change. We’re going to look at the differences in two types of modern relationships and help you understand how they are similar and what their key differences are.

Open Relationship vs. Polyamorous Relationship

An open relationship is one where one or both of its members have physical relationships with people outside the relationship, but still remain romantically committed to each other. In a polyamorous relationship, the members have many lovers whom they may be physically and emotionally engaged with at any one time.

So, what’s the difference between poly and open relationships? Sometimes it seems like there’s a pretty slim distinction between the two. Some consider a polyamorous relationship one which involves multiple loving, consensual relationships, but it doesn’t necessarily imply an open relationship.

1. Not for Everyone

Both poly and open dating fall under the umbrella of sociosexuality: the willingness to engage in uncommitted sex relations. Sociosexuality is considered a sexual orientation, just like gay, straight, or bi are sexual orientations. People who are sociosexual may find it hard to get the right partner(s), which we think probably stems from the fact that they don’t acknowledge, define, and ask for a sociosexual relationship early enough in their dating career. If you’re sociosexual and don’t know what you need in a relationship, you may end up cheating and causing relationship problems.

For a non-sociosexual, it can be impossible to accept an open relationship. People who are in open relationships can get rejected by non-sociosexual individuals if they bring up the concept on a date. In general, these two sexual orientations will have a hard time getting their needs met in relationships with each other. Still, in some rare cases, a sociosexual can eventually convince their initially non-sociosexual partners to try sociosexuality after years of a committed relationship.

2. Tell the Truth

Don’t use polyamory as a way to transition out of a committed relationship. If you think you may be sociosexual and need to be in a relationship with more than one person, the best path is to tell the truth. You may cause some hurt now, but trust us, it will be less than if your partner catches you cheating. In any relationship, trust gets broken when a partner decides to do something outside the bounds of the relationship before discussing it. No relationship can work without communication and trust. So tell the truth and ask for what you need. It’s always the best policy.

3. Make Friends

Most open and poly relationships that are successful are the ones where the partners who are not sleeping with each other get along and are friendly with one another. For instance, pretend there’s a married woman in an open marriage who starts a new relationship with a man. She, her husband, and her new partner will all be happiest is the two men are on good terms with one another or become friends. In this situation, the partners who aren’t involved sexually can be the ones who keep the group together.

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