Open marriages and other types of “monogam-ish” relationships are still considered taboo by many. But for couples with a strong foundation built on love, trust and communication and a mutual desire to open the marriage, it can be a positive experience.
Below, men and women who have been part of an open marriage clear up some of the widely held assumptions that are just plain wrong.
MYTH: They don’t take their marriage seriously.
“[People think] that we are not committed, that we are cavalier about our relationship or marriage. This could not be further from the truth! I am 100 percent committed and loyal to my husband. That is why I do consensual non-monogamy ― in the long term I see that it enhances our connection.” ― Gracie X, author of Wide Open
MYTH: The relationship must be on the rocks.
“There’s a misconception that it must mean there’s something wrong with your relationship or that you no longer love each other. All it really means is that you’re both very horny and want some variety. It can get monotonous eating your same favorite meal night after night, year after year. This way, you relearn to appreciate that meal even more.” ― Richie Cohen of the married comedy duo Dick and Duane
MYTH: The conversation about opening the marriage is always initiated by the husband.
“Women have sex drives just like men. And jealousy is not a female prerogative. Open relationships have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with relationship style. Both men and women can desire non-monogamy, and that desire can change throughout one’s life. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself a serial monogamist one day and an open relationship proponent the next.” ― Jenny Block, excerpted from “The 9 Biggest Myths About Open Marriage”
MYTH: They’re not considerate of their partner’s feelings.
“Being open or polyamorous requires being incredibly considerate and conscientious with regards to the feelings and well-being of everyone around you. In my experience, the most adept and successful polyamorous people are ones who live by the calendar and hash out dates relatively far in advance and with the prior knowledge and enthusiastic consent of their primary partners.” ― writer Grant Stoddard
MYTH: Only selfish and immature people take part in open relationships.
“I think a huge misconception is that if you’re doing non-monogamy, you must be emotionally immature and not really in love. Non-monogamous couples who are mutually interested in this relationship model ― starting from a strong foundation and committed to one another as their primary relationship ― truly do enjoy the best of both worlds that many monogamous people secretly fantasize about: the security and love of marriage and the adventure and eroticism of variety. There are more couples making this work than most people believe. I failed at it, but there are many people succeeding.” ― Robin Rinaldi, editor of the online magazine Together
MYTH: They’re just a bunch of wild sex addicts.
“Not everyone in an open marriage is some kind of sex-addicted freak show. Between household duties, raising children and having a meaningful relationship with my husband, I do not have a lot of time to dedicate to having sex with other people, even if I wanted to. I do not have sex with every man I meet. I do not want to steal your husband. I do not even want to have sex with your husband. I do not have sex at the grocery store or soccer practice or bring strange men into our home.” ― Gwen & Lark for YourTango, excerpted from “I’m In An Open Marriage And You Would Never Know It”
MYTH: All people in open marriages are cut from the same cloth.
“The biggest misconception is that non-monogamous people are of a certain stripe and conduct their relationships in a certain way. As Lux Alptraum wrote in an article published just recently, ‘It’s important to recognize that ‘non-monogamy’ isn’t one specific, discrete thing. In the same way that ‘non-Christians’ practice a wide and varied array of religions, people who eschew monogamy do so in a number of different ways.” ― writer Grant Stoddard
MYTH: Once you open a relationship, it stays open.
“You can be open for any part of a relationship. It may be something you want after you have been with someone for a long time. Or you may find that after being open for a long time you find yourself craving monogamy again. Just be warned that the transition from closed to open and open to closed is not always easy, and both partners have to be on board at the same time, which can be tricky. Again, talking all along the way is the only way to make this work. (In case you have not noticed, being in a successful open relationship requires a lot of talking.)” ― Jenny Block, excerpted from “The 9 Biggest Myths About Open Marriage”