Elliott Gordon wants to debunk the myths our society holds about open relationships.
As a man who has been in many different types of relationships with many different women, I hear a lot of bad mouthing about open relationships.
This negativity toward open relationships comes from average people as well as accredited psychologists and therapists. Most of these people share one thing in common: they’ve either never had an open relationship, or have tried one only to end up disappointed. (Side note: Monogamy has disappointed far more people than open relationships, but no one walks around saying that “monogamous relationships don’t work.”)
This negativity can be very discouraging for people who are interested in pursuing or exploring open relationships. Sure, these “myths” are true for some people in some situations, but for the most part they’re broad generalizations that limit people’s beliefs on what is possible.
I want to set the facts straight.
Myth #1: People in open relationships get STDs because they sleep with too many people.
STDs are nothing to toy with. But nowadays, we understand more than ever about STDs. If you get tested regularly, are honest about your sexual history, and practice safe sex, the likelihood of you getting an STD is slim.
Our society continues to hold a very puritanical attitude toward sex. The interest groups that suppress sex in our society are not interested in your pleasure or emotional fulfillment; they are simply interested in furthering their agendas. When pursuing a relationship, consider your needs before following an arbitrary rule.
Myth #2: Open relationships benefit men more than women.
This belief stems from the idea that contemporary society discourages women from having open relationships, yet tolerates men who have open relationships. When it comes right down to it, men and women want virtually the same things. Open relationships have just as much potential of providing love, sex, and fulfillment as monogamous relationships.
Myth #3: Women agree to open relationships in hopes that the man who will commit to an exclusive relationship later on.
I once dated a woman where this was the case. It was so clear she wanted to be my girlfriend—yet she told me that she “was willing to do whatever I wanted.” Women, like anyone with a hidden agenda, are easy to spot. But even if they’re good at hiding their intentions, it’s important to communicate what you want upfront and at regular intervals.
Myth #4: Open relationships aren’t real relationships.
You can have an open relationship that is as loving and as deep as a monogamous relationship. In some cases, I’ve had more meaningful connections with women I saw non-exclusively than I’ve had with women I saw exclusively. We often view “commitment” in today’s society as the “ultimate prize” of emotional fulfillment, but placing too much value or attention on someone can also smother intimacy—which best comes as a surprise.
Myth #5: A man who is interested in being in an open relationship with a woman isn’t interested enough in the woman to commit fully.
This belief assumes there really are some people that don’t deserve a relationship. This is a scarcity mentality that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for those who believe it. Instead, hold the belief that everyone is eligible, worthy, desirable, and deserving of a great relationship. In reality, it doesn’t matter what type of relationship anyone pursues, because rewarding relationships are abundant.
Myth #6: Women search for open relationships with men because they don’t feel like they’re worthy of being in a full relationship.
Like calling women “sluts,” this statement is a weapon people used to diminish women who pursue the types of relationships that they want. By judging them for deviating against a societal norm, they can feel morally superior in the face that these women are probably enjoying better relationships than they are.
Many of these myths come from the frame that monogamy is the best type of relationship that you can have. I neither believe that monogamy is the best type of relationship, nor do I think that an open relationship is a better type. No relationship conforms to one single formula, and there are as many types of relationships as there ARE relationships. All relationships take work to maintain, whether they are exclusive or nonexclusive, last a lifetime or last only one night, whether they are built on a foundation of deep love or merely casual. This is the truth of that society should be promoting.