We are all familiar with movies such as “No Strings Attached” and “Friends with Benefits. These films showcase a romantic setup that consists of almost all elements of the usual “boyfriend-girlfriend” arrangement, but lacks two things: label and commitment. But there’s already a name for it, which we refer to as an “open relationship.”
Many people these days are getting into open relationships. But what is it exactly and why has it become so popular?
The “open” relationship framework
An open relationship, in the simplest sense, is a kind of romantic arrangement wherein two people get together and act as a couple, but do not opt to be labeled as a couple. It may be confusing at first glance, as couples in this setup often act like they are committed to each other, even if in fact they are not.
An open relationship tends to be fluid and non-exclusive, depending on how the persons involved handle it. Oftentimes, while they tend to spend time together, sleep together, and even plan life together, they are at the same time free to see and date other people as they desire.
Pros of an open relationship
Getting into an open relationship offers a lot of advantages for both men and women. Among the perks that you may enjoy from this setup include:
1. No need for commitment.
One of the biggest perks of an open relationship is that there is no need for you to commit to a romantic partnership yet. This is often preferred by individuals who want to have someone by their side but are not sure of their feelings for the other person yet, or by people who want to experience the comforts usually acquired in typical romantic relationships but are not in for the long haul yet.
If you happen to be in a mutual understanding with another person, but are not ready to commit to towards an exclusive romantic partnership, then this is a good way to test the waters. In this setup, you get to have a sneak peek into what may be like if you are in a relationship without actually inking into an agreement.
2. You can date other people.
Another good thing about being in an open relationship is that you can go ahead and date other people. Since this setup doesn’t have any label or commitment, you are not bound to exclusively dating only one person. You may still hang out with other people you like or feel to have chemistry with.
Of course, you have to take this in caution, as you may get entangled with confusing or misleading feelings towards one or more people in the long run. Perhaps it would be better if you just go on friendly dates until you have finally made up your mind in committing to a more serious arrangement, i.e. one that has a label in it.
3. There is no need to make an emotional investment.
A lot of us fancy the concept of being in a relationship but are not yet ready to be in one. If you happen to feel this way too, then going for an open arrangement would be an ideal option. In this setup, you and your partner may hold hands, cuddle, and comfort each other. However, doing these things doesn’t mean you have to make an emotional investment right away. If you are not yet emotionally prepared to commit and are just in to enjoy human affection, then this is the setup to be in.
Cons of an open relationship
While it has its advantages, it also has its downsides, and these include:
1. You are at high risk of developing feelings for the other person unexpectedly.
Spending time together and doing things like typical couples do put both of you in a situation where you may end up developing feelings for each other. It would be ideal if you happen to feel the same way, but what if only one side starts to invest emotionally? You may find yourself at the losing end if you start falling for your partner, only to find out that he or she does not feel the same way.
2. You may start asking for a label.
Open relationships put you in a limbo, especially when you and your partner have been in such a setup for a long time already. The time usually comes for you to ask whether it’s time to proceed to the next level, i.e. a more formal romantic relationship. However, asking for a label would also entail commitment; your partner may want to give you a label but isn’t into committing yet, so there lies a problem.
It is best that you are able to understand whatever decision your partner will make with regards to putting a label on your setup, as if things don’t go your way, you may feel hurt. Your setup may not be the same afterward too, so you have to be prepared to lose your arrangement and your partner too.
3. It can be awkward to explain your setup to other people.
In most cultures, romantic relationships require a sense of formality. This is because your social circle may judge you based on the kind of relationship you are in, and they will not immediately understand if you have chosen to be in an open arrangement. They may ask why you opt to be in a setup where there is no commitment between you and your partner, and this requires a lot of explaining to do.
If you are in a society that is not that understanding when it comes to non-conventional romantic relationships, then it is also best to be prepared to answer questions. You may want to discuss this too with your partner so you both know what to say without offending each other.
Should you try an open relationship?
Open relationship setups are not for everyone, but it works for certain people. This is because such a setup requires not only an open heart, but an open mind to understand and accept its scope and limitations.