What are Open Relationships

Open relationships are not a new concept in the history of society. Yet in recent years there has been a lot more interest and discussion about how to design romantic relationships differently to better meet people’s needs.

You may have heard terms such as polyamory, poly, swinging, the Lifestyle, open marriage, friends with benefits, monogamish, consensual non-monogamy and many others. It can be very confusing to understand what all these various terms mean.

Open relationships is an umbrella term that is often used to describe many different types of open relationships. Basically, it can describe any relationship style where the people involved consent to some version of additional partners (whether sexual, emotional or both). It can be hugely different from traditional monogamy or only slightly different.

Open relationships when done correctly are not cheating. Everyone involved is aware and consenting of the agreements made to have other partners in various ways and circumstances. It is almost never a “free for all” and those involved still have commitments and expectations to meet.

Most open relationships no matter what term you use, fall into three basic formats: Polyamory, Swinging or Designer Relationships. Here are some definitions.

  • Polyamory or Poly: This dynamic allows people to have more than one partner both sexually and emotionally. In essence, you are able to be “in love” with more than one person. There are many different ways poly relationships can be designed. For more information, check out the open relationship resource page.
  • Swinging or The Lifestyle (LS): This dynamic is commonly engaged in by couples (although some single women and men also engage in swinging) who are seeking other singles, couples or groups as additional sexual partners. Those in the LS have an emotional commitment to one other person (similar to monogamy) yet have other sexual partners. Couples may either share these partners together or separately. Like polyamory, there are many ways to design a swinging or LS relationship. Check out the open relationship resource page for more information.
  • Designer Relationships: While any type of open relationship could be considered a designer relationship, I tend to use the term for those unique relationship configurations that do not quite fit under the polyamory or swinging definitions. Designer relationships often have unique ways of mixing monogamy with aspects of open relationships. You can find more information on the open relationship resource page.

If you are considering or new to starting an open relationship and need help to design it in a way that works well, please refer to the information on my site to help you. If you are looking for a therapist/coach to help with any struggles you may be experiencing, please feel free to contact me.

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