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Call me “Mr Old Fashioned”, but am I the only one to be surprised by a number of gay relationships that are classed as in an “open” status? Is this really so common? What percentage of relationships are open? And does that figure correspond to heterosexual relationships? Am I behind the times?

What Is It Exactly?

An open relationship is defined as “an interpersonal relationship in which the parties want to be together but agree to a form of a non-monogamous relationship”.

This concept has been recognised since the 1970s, I’m assuming since the ideology of ‘free love’ became so prevalent. In an ever changing world of increasing acceptance towards LGBT, has the presence of open relationships become more apparent? Are you more likely to be involved in an open gay relationship than a heterosexual one? A recent study indicates that around 3% of adults in the US are currently in an open relationship, and 14% would consider being in one if they had the chance. Whereas a similar study also in the US but purely involving gay couples, concluded that 32% were currently engaged in an open relationship.

Another surprise to my traditionalist views is the variety of open relationships and their labels.

The obvious scenario seems to be non-monogamy, a type of interpersonal relationship in which sexual exclusivity is not held as the primary fundamental premise of the relationship. So it may be that the sex is required more so by one partner than the other, thus the accepted need to find it elsewhere needs addressing – by hunting further afield.

Cuckoldry – is where a person has sex with another individual with the consent of their partner.

Ménage à trois – is a sexual arrangement involving three people. Add any more people and it can be interpreted as an organised social activity more commonly known as swinging.

Some have even taken it further… group marriage is where more than two people are all considered to be married to one another.

How Common Is It Now?

I expected most people’s opinions to relate to this concept as cynical and unrealistic, but the idea seems to be becoming more apparent and accepted.

It’s surprisingly easy on dating sites, to find a couple, or a single member of an open relationship, browsing for an additional sexual partner. This makes for some interesting conversation. A profile picture of two guys/girls appears at the forefront of your Tindr feed, shows 2 miles away on Grindr, or leads the row of pictures across the bottom of your POF search function. How can we politely ask if he or she is the better looking one of the two? In the past, I’ve not been afraid to ask. However, a reply I experience more and more is “we’re actually a couple”. Sod’s law dictates that it’s never the more attractive one that I’d be talking to anyway. But the act of appearing on dating sites entrusted with a partner is certainly intriguing…

So I did some digging. There are plenty of websites and apps now dedicated to finding opportunities to participate in an open relationship or sexual endeavours within or without one.

Kenblackman.com – is a website for couples practising/considering consensual non-monogamy…

Openminded.com – “Find like-minded individuals that keep an open mind about monogamous relationships” – another online dating site for open relationships.

Even celebrities are more commonly honest about their open relationships…

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher – their marriage lasted from 2005-2013 and the relationship was defined as open, as long as they were physically together.

Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green – according to an interview taken by OK magazine, Megan is the one who is permitted to stray. The fact that they built their relationship with such a free understanding of each other and are still together and happily making babies, shows that something must be working.

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So Can It Actually Work?

Can these relationships be stronger, due to the exceptional amount of trust involved? Can it actually help the relationship become more intimate, and last longer? Or does it open up trust issues and lower the boundaries to a point that a relationship has no real foundations or uniqueness? There are arguments for both.

One of the main problems identified in an open relationship is that of jealousy. Any human being wouldn’t be complete without this personality trait. Some may be more prone to experiencing it than others.

But the success of an open relationship would seem to hinge on the need for a laid back personality in both partners, where the ability to turn off the jealousy triggers would be so important. It seems to be more accepted in long distance relationships or in those that involve large amounts of time away from each other.

Could an open relationship be used as a positive? Would it encourage the two members of that relationship to work harder at it, and become more open within one another? After all, if the jealousy isn’t there, is it a question of whether that person’s feelings are strong enough for his partner, if he feels no amount of remorse letting him or her have intimate relations with someone else. The risk is always there, that they might take a stronger liking to that third wheel and end their current relationship.

Some couples may see the opportunity to spice up their sex life by inviting a third person into their bedroom. Is it really possible to overcome the jealousy and other emotional barriers to go through with it and still remain completely committed to your partner? Is there not an underlying doubt that one may become attached to another person and end their current relationship? If that concern isn’t there, then is the relationship right in the first place?

Consider this route for your own partnership. Can you openly ask your ‘significant other’ about it when you’ve finished reading this article? And how would you do that, without risking damaging the relationship because your partner completely disagrees with your way of thinking? To show your hand might be risky. They could be equally open to the idea (don’t come back to me if you get in trouble).

Why Not?

Whichever way you look at it, if a couple can make it work what’s the problem really? Friends will have their own opinions on it, but it comes down to what will work for you. Could your best friends, neighbours, or even a relative be in an open relationship but you’re unaware as they don’t want to publish this openly within their social circle?

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Personally, my mind is opening up to the idea, if not in a relationship of my own, but that of friends, colleagues and so on. Thinking about it, I have respected friends that have been honest and proud enough to tell me they share their partner(s) with others and still hold a very committed loving relationship.

We could be entering an era in which open relationships will be increasingly accepted in the modern world. We could see a shift as much as the LGBT community is more commonly accepted today than it was fifty years ago.

 

This could be the next big step in an ever-accepting social revolution.

Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you’d like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.

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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.