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Open relationships

Affairs or open relationships may be seen as greener pastures, but what happens when you jump the marital fence and start wandering the open plain? What are the risks and benefits when the playing field suddenly includes more than two people?


One of my favourite topics is ‘polyamory’, which is quite simply about having multiple, loving relationships. I think it resonates with me because I believe so strongly in individual freedom, and I don’t believe our hearts should suffer being controlled by the restrictions of society or peer pressure. If we want to love someone, we should.

But unfortunately, society tells us no. Reinforced by insecure and fearful people, society tries to impose restrictions on how many people we can love at a time. Love is something you can only do with one person at a time, they say, and if you love more than one, then not only are you being unfaithful, but you have to make a choice.

I enjoy it when I read articles that discuss the idea of loving more than one person, and I was shown such an article yesterday by Deidre. This post will primarily be only to show what I think are interesting and thought-provoking excerpts from the article, which is from a Wellbeing magazine and is unfortunately not online.

Please feel free to add your comments to this post, and I invite you all to discuss your thoughts and opinions on this concept.

Though large numbers of people still choose to get married, the reality is that statistics can make it seem like an outdated institution. A third of relationships end in divorce, while another 20% are having affairs. As a colleague says, “Why not face reality? Monogamy is unrealistic. It doesn’t actually work.”

I’ve actually seen statistics show that up to 80% of men and women engage in affairs behind their partners’ backs. I know that statistics can’t always be trusted, but we all know that a lot of people have an affair. A lot of people are looking for love outside their main relationship.

The difficulty in today’s culture is that there are no ‘rules of engagement’. Anything goes. In the past it was simply: marriage or nothing. God and religion were used to construct rules for how people were to relate intimately with each other. The boundaries were clear.

Now there are no boundaries. Each person has to decide for themselves how they will navigate the relationship terrain. Instead of being able to rest within confines constructed by an external body, we all have to take responsibility for constructing our own rules.

While society may still favour particular choices, there are really no rules about these relationship choices. You have to decide for yourself what costs and what payoffs are more appealing to you.

If you prefer to be honest about your desire to be with other people, an open relationship is an option. In a way it’s easy to argue for open relationships; intellectually, they make sense.

The argument goes something like this: “We can’t get all our needs met by one person. What should stop us from exploring more than one connection? The motivation for monogamy is just fear and insecurity. Therefore, it’s more honest and freeing to have multiple partners.”

As a colleague argues, “Let’s be realistic. Huge numbers of people have affairs. Why should this be hidden? Why is there such control of our sexuality? Open relationships just make sense.”

Another colleague, however, argues that while open relationships make intellectual sense the reality is that people are not that evolved yet. “It is too easy to kid yourself and other issues end up getting acted out via the multiple partners,” she contends.

It is different going outside the relationship from a position of abundance, such as “I am completely happy in my relationship and want to be able to further express my capacity for love and intimacy by seeing other people”, compared to a position of lack such as “Something is missing in my current relationship so I am going to look elsewhere.” So before choosing the open relationship option, ask yourself, “Is there something missing in myself or my relationship that is making me look outside?”

When contemplating sexuality in a spiritual context, I would ask the following questions:

  • Does following this energy fit with the highest intention for my life?
  • Does it encourage the ego’s needing and wanting or does it help dissolve this?
  • Am I coming from a place of fullness or lack?
  • Does the sexual energy line up with the energies of my heart, mind and higher self?
  • Even though it might be right for me, is it also the best thing for the other person?
  • Are both people relatively equal in terms of personal development, maturity and power (so that there is no abuse involved)?
  • Does following this energy come from compassion and respect for all who might be affected by this act?
  • Do I maintain integrity by doing this or does something become hidden or a secret?
  • Do I maintain open communication with all involved?
  • Am I processing issues that arise from this decision?
  • Could this sexual energy be expressed just as well through some other creative outlet?
  • If I express this energy sexually, might I miss out on discovering new, more finely tuned ways for two people to engage energetically?

I’d love to know your own thoughts on this, so please discuss.

Thanks for reading! Please add your own thoughts below.

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