Can open relationships really work?

As human beings we are conditioned to understand life according to certain polar opposites. From a very young age, we are programmed to make sense of the world based on a set of limitations and pre-defined ideologies.

We are taught the differences between good and bad, right and wrong, black and white and hopefully one day, when we are wiser, the difference between sex and love. Some conventions, like relationships, should be as clear as day but there are some relationships that have progressed beyond the boundaries of conservative thinking.

No matter how open-minded or liberal we think we might be, understanding something as foreign as the open relationship has always been a difficult concept to grasp.

The idea of loving more than one person, whether it's emotionally or just physically, threatens the very value on which relationships are built. Is it because it goes against everything we were brought up to believe in? Commitment, trust, fidelity, the "one".

Is society perhaps a little too prudent and narrow-minded to fully comprehend the benefits of being in a sexually-liberating relationship or do most of us simply prefer the standards that come with tradition?

It's extremely rare to come across an open relationship that works, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find two that did. Samantha, who was notorious for being sexually adventurous, embraced the fact that she would never physically belong to one man only.

She had been through them all...three ways, orgies, one night stands, four ways...the woman was practically a sexual intersection. We all knew that her relationship with sex was far too wonderful for anyone to pass up, which is why we were all shocked to meet the man that would one day become her fiance.

William was no stranger to Sam's promiscuity and had often been left hurt in the beginning stages of their relationship. After carefully ironing out the terms and conditions of their arrangement, William eventually succumbed to the idea that Sam would never be a one-man woman.

He adapted to the situation which he eventually found mutually beneficial. He'd often take part in her many sexual exploits and learned to free himself from the constraints of traditional relationship dogma. Providing that he knew who and when and providing that it was only physical, William had learned to accept the things he could not change in his partner.

They have been together for seven years.
Further downtown in the Gay Quarter, Seth and his boyfriend Ernie had also been involved in a progressive relationship for the past five years. Somehow it was far easier to accept this sort of behaviour from a gay relationship given the stereotypes placed upon them but I soon found out that it was no different from a heterosexual relationship.

 "Some people just have stronger sexual needs than others so we simply allow each other the freedom to explore that. We love each other to death and we'll always stay committed to one another, so what's the harm in indulging our sexual deviances together? We both love sex and this way neither of us are really cheating on each other? We've lasted longer than most relationships we know."

Based on my own sex-capades, a three-way can go one of two ways: mutually satisfying or emotionally damaging. Fortunately, I was only ever the supporting role in a sexual performance, so I never really understood what the other two were feeling at the time...apart from me and each other that is.

All I know is that that particular relationship ended shortly after and I had somehow earned an enemy for life. Was the key to an open relationship being able to separate one's primal urges from emotional dependency?

How does one cut off the emotional strings attached to one's heart? Is it something our society is ready and willing to embrace or is it simply a practice reserved for sexual revolutionaries?       

When it comes to open relationships, I couldn't help but wonder, are we there yet? 
Read more on: love dating relationships
Francois Snyman 2012-12-11 11:46:57 AM
I don't understand why people would want a "relationship" in the first place, if they need to play. Our problem stems from not sharing our fantasies with our partners in the first place. As a married man today, having sowed my wild oats, I would never go back to my old ways. Sex only got real meaning once I allowed my wife into the darker corners of my desires. Besides having created an emotionally secure environment for her, she is more than I ever could wish for. A relationship is far more than sex. If there isn't emotional security, there can be no explosive orgasms. That is just the way you girls are put together and it will never change. I yet have to meet a woman that likes seeing her husband having a 3 some being part of the action.
Melanie Pieterkosky 2012-12-11 06:02:14 PM
I am in an open marriage. We are both Polyamorous. We have multiple intimate relationships. I have been happily married for 10yrs next June. It works for us, but not for everyone. Please look at before you judge. My story is also linked on the site. And Yes: Safe Sex all the way. That means condoms, HIV tests, Femidoms, full STI testing (there is more than HIV to worry about)
Preshen Govender 2012-12-12 08:19:36 AM
Variety is the spice of life you cannot eat curry every day
Rudzani Mulaudzi 2012-12-12 05:04:28 PM
I think the problem is with us as man, when a man met a girl the first five to six month he will do anything to make her happy but when time goes on a man stop to buy those flowers, kissing her now and then, calling her baby, sweetie all those names. Thats when a woman starts to think that u dont care anymore, so please dont starts something u not going to maitain.
Arno Breedt 2012-12-13 05:47:57 PM
Those unable to overcome their own "pre-defined ideologies" and other latent biases cannot grow into anything but their parents. In this, I have to include the author -- clearly raised in a household unable to impart the wonders of grey-area thinking, of considering valid more than one facet of a complex problem. Some might be programmed to see the world in polar opposites, but I for one choose to be more than my programming could ever dream of preparing me for. I would have more to say in response if this article wasn't as littered with logical fallacies, straw men, false dichotomies, snide ad-hominem comments and a clear foundation of mono-normative moral judgment. I am sure the author intended well. The road to this particular hell, however, is not only paved with good intentions and littered with sloppy analysis but graffiti'd with cherry-picked research and potholed in the premise.
Mahlatse Phaswana 2012-12-19 02:35:15 PM
Can work. We, as men I dunno about women, have too much pride to allow this to happen
Lesedi LeziiDeepdj Zitha 2012-12-19 10:47:10 PM
Honestly,i blv they cn work. No strings attached policy. Nt that I would do woman will skin me alive....
Alicia Ilana Abrahams 2013-01-09 05:21:39 PM
Nice article however I think despite society and going beyond norms etc. an Open Relationship is like cheating, why you in a relationship if you want to mate everywhere like an animal. Great stuff, it's a mutual decision but surely you lacking in other areas to want to seek it sexually all over. I think it's sickening because people hardly condomise which just increases STD's and HIV and AIDS. The New generation is too quick to label new terms to just make everything socially acceptable. Yes, it's your choice to be in an open relationship but really now are really happy living that life.