Celebrities are making open relationships mainstream

With open relationships more socially acceptable these days, it begs the question: is monogamy officially cancelled?

An increasing number of couples are beginning to flip the script on traditional monogamy, and celebs are leading the charge.

Why are open relationships trending?

Despite long being considered taboo, open relationships are steadily making their way into the mainstream.

Hollywood celebrities such as Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith recently shone a light on the topic after publicly speaking about their flexible monogamy agreement and, closer to home, influencers and former Bachelor and Bachelorette Abbie Chatfield and Konrad Bień-Stephen have openly discussed the teething issues with their own open relationship.

What is an open relationship? How does it differ from a traditional romance?

Open monogamy is a type of relationship structure where two people are in a committed relationship with each other, as well as in a flexible, fluid agreement that could include sexual, emotional or romantic connections with others.

People in an open monogamy agreement are dedicated to their primary partners, but also have an understanding of each other’s needs, and have agreed that being with other people (while remaining committed primarily to each other) is the best way to fulfill those needs.

So are open relationships better than closed ones?

Classic monogamy – the long-time standard for couples – certainly works for many people. However, data from Ashley Madisonthe world’s largest online dating site for people who are married or in relationships, shows that 76 per cent of members who have an open monogamy agreement feel somewhat or very fulfilled in their relationship – a sentiment echoed by only 28 per cent of people in a monogamous relationship.

Are you really in love if you want to sleep with other people?

From a young age, we’re told the most epic love stories start and end with one person and one person only – someone who is our best friend, our confidant, our helping hand and our lover all at once.

On the surface, this may seem like the epitome of romance. How could we want or need anything else with our one true love by our side? But, as open monogamy proves, this type of relationship may be unrealistic for people who find monogamy incompatible with their lifestyles.

Thinking about having multiple partners can challenge everything we know about love. We are taught that if we commit to one person we should only want to have sex with that person.

However, it may be possible to have emotional or romantic monogamy while having sex with other partners. It is possible to pivot to new behaviors and to new people while still staying connected to our primary partner, giving us a fresh understanding of our relationships.

The user’s guide to open monogamy

Want to bring other people into your relationship? Dr. Tammy Nelson reveals what to do

If you and your spouse or partner are thinking about opening up your monogamy agreement, try starting with a “what if” conversation.

Ask each other: What if we were really honest with each other? What if we told each other our real fantasies?

Before you talk about opening things up, think about how you would react to the possibility of outside exploration.

Sharing ideas now is different than admitting to an affair or planning on future cheating – you are being radically honest.

This is the opposite of lying and hiding, as you are committing to not keeping secrets and to giving each other permission to share and explore new experiences together. Talk about how this might feel and dig deep into your own feelings – be open with your partner to “pre-vent” any potential conflicts later on.

If you need help discussing anything that you are concerned could lead to conflict, find a therapist who is open to flexible relationships and who can help you to process these kinds of open-monogamy issues.

Open Monogamy: A Guide To Co-Creating Your Ideal Relationship Agreement by Tammy Nelson (Pan Macmillan, $36.99) is out now.

This article originally appeared in Body + Soul and was reproduced with permission

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