Open Relationships: Yay or Nay?
Everyone has different needs and ways of showing affection.

It’s a given that dating isn’t what it used to be (or as traditional as it used to be). From the twentieth to the twenty-first century, the sphere of dating has radically changed. Some may say that modern dating and relationships have taken on a progressively liberal approach, and others may say that they have digressed from their conventional roots. By conventional, I mean monogamous, heterosexual relationships. While monogamy (and therefore faithfulness) is undeniably desired in exclusive relationships, there is a community for those who desire an open relationship.  

What exactly is an open relationship, you might ask? Well, an open relationship is a consensually ethical non-monogamous relationship. In an open relationship, partners mutually agree on the freedom to pursue intimate, sexual, and sometimes emotional, relations with other people, while still remaining attached to one another. Think of it as an infinite hall pass for both parties. The relations that occur in open relationships are typically casual encounters and interactions, and so the term ‘open-relationship’ differs slightly from ‘polyamory’ which involves the pursuit of multiple serious relationships at once, like in the American TLC show Sister Wives.  

Although the concept of an open-relationship may seem unusual or absurd to most of us, including myself, the appeal of an open-relationship has enlightened many. According to a survey conducted in 2019 by the University of British Colombia amongst 2000 Canadian adults, 12 per cent said they would like to be in an open relationship, four per cent said they were currently in one, and 20 per cent said they were previously in an open relationship. It’s also interesting to note that the majority of those who idealized being in an open relationship were heterosexual men, and, from personal and observed experience, this has proven to be true (screw you, cheaters). Desiring and engaging in an open relationship without discussing it and getting the consent of your partner is unethical and cheating. 

So, what’s the point of an open relationship? Some may answer to “keep their options open.” Others may say to explore different kinds of romance, intimacy, and love, perhaps to keep the spark-filled excitement of their original partnership, or to fulfill different kinds of needs from a variety of partners. Maybe the original partners are bored and want to venture out into the world of dating, without the loss of one another.  Whatever the case may be, to each their own. There are undoubtedly those who experience inner conflicts of jealousy, insecurity, possessiveness, and regret, and so embarking in an open relationship should be thoroughly considered and discussed with your partner. Couples must be on the same page about this decision. Mutual consent is vital for the well-being of the relationship. At the end of the day, you don’t want to end up hurt, or worse, heartbroken.  

As for myself, I am a serial monogamist, and I expect my partner to be as well. I believe that the sanctity of a relationship should be upheld, especially when considering long-term devotion. I maintain four non-negotiable principles in a relationship: respect, loyalty, honesty, and devotion. Personally, as someone who has been broken-hearted, open relationships are not for me, and I don’t think they ever will be. For myself, love between two is better than love amongst a slew. 

However, I bare no judgement toward the decision that others make surrounding their personal and intimate lives. At the end of the day, everyone has a different love language. Love and intimacy are subjective, not objective, therefore what suits me may not suit the next. We all express and require different kinds of affection, and if dating multiple people at once fulfills your needs, then you do you. Like I said, to each their own. So, who are we to judge?

Staff Writer (Volume 48) — Serena is a third year Art History and Professional Writing and Communications student at UTM. As a creative, she's always been fond of viewing and creating art, and writing poetry.  If she isn't typing away at her desk, you can find her at an art gallery or museum, crushing an exercise, dancing to her heart's content, or cheffing-it-up in the kitchen.


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