Being a person who is yet to be convinced about how realistic lifelong monogamy really is, I have long been interested in the concept of open relationships. An open relationship is ‘a marriage or relationship in which both partners agree that each may have sexual relations with others.’
And, wow, what a revelation this could be.
That’s not to suggest I think it could work for everyone but in a world so obsessed with monogamy, couldn’t the concept of people giving each other a little more freedom potentially go towards saving many an otherwise doomed relationship?
My believe is yes, and it would seem, I’m not the only one. In my quest to discover more about open relationships I came across openandawesome.com a revolutionary new site shedding a bit of light on non-monogomous relationships.
Founded and run by the awesome Victoria Rosa Sturley, it is the go-to site for information and advice on open relationships. I caught up with her yesterday and she was kind enough to answer some questions I’d had brewing for a while! …
Why do you think open relationships have the potential to work better than traditional monogamous ones?
I think that both monogamous and open relationships have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Open relationships do have a few elements that make them more resilient than monogamous ones:
- If your partner wants to explore a sexual and, in some cases, emotional connection with other people, it doesn’t mean that they have to split up with you or cheat in order to do it. A lot of people draw enormous comfort from this knowledge.
- Men and women both crave sexual variety. When you sleep with other people, your libido gets heightened and your existing partner can reap the benefits. Plus, they may pick up some techniques or just get out of the regular sexual routine you may fall into.
- In open relationships there is often the philosophy that your partner does not have to be everything to you. Just changing this expectation means that you are putting less pressure on the relationship.
- They allow you to follow your sexual interests without needing to bring your partner into it. This is especially important for those into BDSM and for bisexuals who may not have had that chance before the relationship started.
- Open relationships force you to be more honest and open. This means that the relationship is better equipped to weather possible storms
Do you think traditional monogamous relationships have had their day?
I don’t think so. But I do think the days of monogamy not being questioned and just being the unspoken standard are coming to an end. Most people who practice non-monogamy will tell you that it’s not for the faint hearted. We don’t want to impose it on anyone. Monogamy can also be beautiful and hard or easy depending on who is practicing it and whether they have chosen it freely. I believe that the future will bring more diversity to the world of relationships. This diversity and people’s freedom to choose a relationship form that fits them best can only be seen as a good thing.
Do you think it’s society that conditions people into monogamy and that actually, we aren’t programmed to stay in one sexual relationship our whole lives?
There are scientists who defend that we are naturally monogamous and others who defend the opposite. I believe monogamy comes naturally to some people, but the vast majority feels sexual attraction for more than one person. We all have the freedom to choose how we act on that attraction.
Monogamy as the widespread norm has historically been present in a minority of societies. Not many people know that it was imposed in Europe as little as 1000 years ago.
I believe we are capable of both monogamy and open relationships. We can choose, but our society currently has a single standard – monogamy. That does condition people’s ability to choose.
What is they key to a successful open relationship?
There are many important things. The main two I would say are honesty and communication. The difference between an open relationship and cheating is that people know and consent to what is going on. Without honesty and good communication there can be no real consent and things are likely to fall apart.
And what are your thoughts on Swinging?
It’s not the same as open relationships, since swinging is a community with specific events and ways of working. Swinging can be great for sexual exploration. However, it is a very white and straight environment, so it does not suit everyone. It also tends to focus a lot on the sex and is quite couple centric. Those who want more emotional connections would do better to explore through tantra or in polyamorous and other non-monogamous communities.
What are your thoughts on marriage?
It’s an institution that is under constant flux. I think more will come as it begins to accommodate more than two adults. Some polyamorous people are already celebrating their own ceremonies. I have friends who have included in their marriage vows that they will support their partners in their other relationships.
What way do you think traditional relationships will go in the future, will they die out or is the desire to remain ‘faithful’ ingrained in a lot of people?
The future is uncertain and I can’t claim to know what will happen. My best guess is that we are going towards a greater diversity in relationships. There will be different models that stand side by side and people will be able to choose what fits them best. People will also have the freedom to change over the course of their lifetime. I think monogamy will continue to be important, but not the sole model for relationships.
For more information on how to have a successful open relationship check out openandawesome.com
or follow Victoria on Twitter - @VictoriaRosaOA