Open versus Closed relationships


Well people, the title says it all. Today we’re gonna be talking about open and closed relationships, their advantages and disadvantages. We’ll only be lightly touching the subject here and it’s up to you to pursue further reading.  Now before I get into the main subject, we need to get a clear definition of what open and closed relationships are for all the people out there who dont completely understand the concept.

An open relationship is a relationship (often between two people) in which the participants are free to have sexual intercourse with other partners. If the couple making this agreement are married, it is an open marriage.

In contrast, a closed relationship is the exact opposite. This is where there are only two participants who agree to complete sexual exclusivity. This is the most common form of relationship.

To begin, open relationships are great for people who want complete sexual freedom while remaining committed to someone. In an open relationship both partners are permitted to go out and have intercourse with whoever they wish without consequences. Although there can be many gray areas in the negotiation of the terms of an open relationship. Some people don’t permit ‘love‘ outside of the main relationship, so you can go out and have sex with anyone you want but it can’t move anywhere beyond that- just sex. This is where we run into problems. Love in an open relationship is usually defined as swinging. Swinging can be a problem for some open couples as both partners may not be comfortable with ‘sharing’. A very large and common issue here is also the emotional implications of being in an open relationship.  Many argue that an open relationship lacks intimacy and the security needed to carry on a real relationship. There are also the health risks to be considered when engaging in an open relationship. The increased risk of the transmission of STD’s as well as the risk of pregnancy are very high.

In a closed relationship we don’t have half as many of the risks associated with an open relationship. To begin, we have the reduced health risk of being with one partner. We also have the lack of gray area’s that open relationships present. On the downside, some people do feel trapped in a closed relationship because they lack the freedom of experimenting with other partners whereas  in an open relationship they have the freedom to do so. Some people in closed relationships permit intimacy outside of the relationship but not sexual activity. Intimacy being defined as kissing and hugging etc. Most people in closed relationships don’t permit intimacy outside of the relationship due to fear of it leading into an open relationship.

In between both the open and the closed relationship we have popular relationships called ‘casual relationships‘. I am currently involved in a casual relationship right now. Most people would know it as having a ‘fuck buddy’ or ‘friends with benefits’. This type of relationship is probably perfect for people who don’t want the commitment involved in a closed relationship with all the benefits of a open relationship. The problem with this type of relationship is that it can tend to lean either way. It can move into a closed relationship if both parties feel the need to retain exclusivity among partners or it can move into an open one if they wish to pursue others. When in this type of relationship there is also the emotional risk of having one partner develop deeper feelings for the other. The problem there is quite obvious and that risk exists in the open relationship as well.

Open and casual relationships are usually more popular among younger people. Usually within the high school and college age. As people get older they find the need to settle down with someone. This is usually due to wanting to get married and raise a family etc. Young people involved in open and casual relationships usually do so because they feel the need to experiment and explore their sexuality actively.

All in all, each of these types of relationships have their givings and misgivings and it’s up to you to decide which is right for you. For some farther reading please refer to the links provided below. Entertain me with your thoughts.

http://dating.suite101.com/article.cfm/friends_with_benefits

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/11/03/friends-with-benefits/

http://www.directnaturalgame.com/LTRs/managing-open-relationships.html

http://nymag.com/lifestyle/sex/annual/2005/15063/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monogamy

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