Adapted from airgap on flickr
For one year I was romantically entangled with a polyamorous man. He explained that he and his partner had agreed to have an open relationship where each person could love and enjoy other people sexually as long as they always stayed completely honest, practiced safe sex, took care of all each other’s emotional, physical, and practical needs first, and felt secure together–not jealous or afraid of losing one another. There was an underlying commitment that went along with their willingness to “spread the love” and explore other sexual avenues.

I soon learned that he and his partner were quite the normal couple with problems, insecurities, and hard work. Our experience ended up showing me that I was not inclined to take part in a polyamorous relationship, especially as “the other woman”. I was too selfish, insecure, and I treasured exclusivity too much to be prepared for that type of experience. I did not feel secure, trusting, nor loved. Perhaps this was his fault; perhaps it was the situation. Maybe it was me!

And although it did not work out, the relationship caused me to wonder: If we’re perfectly healthy emotionally and mentally, are we more inclined to be monogamous or to have multiple love partners? Does it depend on the individual? What is the reason for jealousy and the desire for security? What makes us cheat? Could having an open relationship help a couple? Or does it harm them in the long run? Is it only about sex?

Survey says..!

I recently polled my Twitter pals about the titillating topic of open relationships. Keep in mind that most of my tweeps are non-religious folks from all walks of life. If you’d like to respond, please comment! I’m fascinated by the variety of opinions and research on this topic.

Let’s see what they had to say using 140 characters! I’m keeping things anonymous to conserve their privacy.

Part A: “What do you think about open relationships?”

They’re ok, if you can handle that sort of thing. don’t think I could though.

I think whatever people can make work for them relationship-wise is fine by me, I’ve seen open relationships work out fine. [cont.] I think in a way Open Relat. may be easier, as there r far less boundaries 2 worry about crossing, no fear of being cheated on.

Not for me. [x2]

Whatever works for two (or three, or four…) consenting adults is none of my business whatsoever!

I like them! 🙂 I think they’re much more realistic than what you’re told to expect, relationship-wise.

Not a big fan, but my ex-wife was a fan.

Read more and check out Part B on Monogamy vs. Polyamory below the cut!

Interesting idea, but I don’t think it would work for most people. [cont.] Could erode intimacy… I’m rather interested in others’ opinions on this. I’ve given a little thought to it before…

Open relationships: Nice in theory, in my experience doesn’t work. Jealousy is eventually unavoidable. [cont.] Unfortunately ;-P Monogamy is, in my experience, safer and healthier for all concerned!

Free love! [cont.] after all marriage is a chattel contract isn’t it?

If both partners are comfortable and safe about it, I don’t have a problem. Given the right circumstances, I could be in one.

Open relationships = You’re not my first choice, I’m checking my options, and I can’t stand the thought of being single. 🙂

Intellectually It seems like it shouldnt be a problem if its agreed upon and both want it. But…. [cont.] If I was it was early in a relationship, so that it was not serious yet, no heavy emo. attachment yet,.. that might be fine.

As long as the relationship’s rock solid first and both sides have ironed out their jealousies, they can be fantastic.

Good in the short, impossible to maintain longevity. Less the relationship takes backseat to other benefits.

I think any couple can create a future into which they are willing to live. If they are aligned on ‘open’ then it’s OK. [cont.] W/O alignment on goals and possible futures, relationship is in trouble, open or not. Relationships don’t have to look one way.

Open relationships are fine if both parties are safe and aware, but it’s definitely, 100% not for me. I’m a monogamous penguin.

Arguably an evolutionary view has males as promiscuous but not females. However, it’s in our interest to protect our children.

*  *  *

Part B: “Do you think humans are naturally monogamous or polyamorous?”


Though I am open to all relationship types I think *most* are naturally monogamous, a sense of belonging to one special person

If we were naturally monogamous everyone would be monogamous. It doesn’t follow natural patterns, survival needs, or history.

I think part of what makes us human is being able to decide what’s going to cause less harm, whatever our pesky hormones want.

I think it depends on the person

That’s a tricker question. I think we evolved into monogamy. With emotions comes love and monogamy. If not, it’s just sex.

I think most people are serial polygamist, having only one lover at a time.

Humans are no longer naturally anything. That’s the problem.


Is there any doubt which group men, me included, belong: P

Humans are not monogamous. Anthropology 101.

There’s no “think” about it. Any biologist or anthropologist worth his/her salt will tell you humans are not monogamous.

I think most men – naturally – prefer one life partner and multiple sex partners! [cont.] One problem is that people conflate “monogamy” and “long-term pair bonding.” Not the same thing. [cont.] I mean humans and other animals can and do form long-term or lifelong pairs that aren’t necessarily sexually exclusive.

Definitely not monogamous but humans have the capability (through reasoning) to remain so. There is no doubt that sex drives us

Either way, they’re fucked.

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21 thoughts on “Tweeps Speak: Open Relationships”

Kylyssa Shay · June 18, 2009 at 2:17 am

Every relationship I've been in has either begun or become polyamorous. I think that some people are naturally polyamorous but others aren't. I think most people are naturally serial monogamists.

The "happily ever after" myth has been shoved down our throats to such a degree that people are made to feel like failures if their relationships don't last a lifetime. With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce it's pretty clear to me that lifelong monogamy isn't the "rule" but the exception.

I am currently in an open relationship and it is the most nurturing and fulfilling relationship I've ever experienced. It pleases me when my partner gets more love and more pleasure and he feels the same way – I think it's a beautiful thing.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    godlessgirl · June 18, 2009 at 4:32 am

    I enjoyed reading your insights here, Kylyssa. The romantic notion of having one partner you love forever taps into so much about who we are and what we want. For instance, I want to be known, understood, and loved as I am. I want to be totally free and safe around someone with whom I share everything. According to the most common model, that would mean finding a mate, marrying, and saying "til death do us part".

    When my mother remarried after my dad's death, I found myself realizing that it was not only possible, but beneficial that we can match ourselves with more than one person over our lifetimes. I do not at all believe in soulmates, and I'm glad I don't. I think our duty is to look for great partnerships and working hard to make them as good as they can be for both people involved.

Mori · June 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm

It's important to make a distinction between "polyamory" and "open" I think. I'm in a polyamorous triad that is also polyfidelitous (we don't bring in anyone besides us 3). We've been down the "open" road and found it doesn't work well for us; being in a triad is complicated enough in our case, I really have no idea whether people are "wired" to be monogamous or polyamorous – probably everyone is unique. It's nice, though, to see people keeping an open mind. Probably the most wearing part about being poly is the "you're just weird – that's not normal" reaction. Perhaps it's not normal, but given the state of monogamy in this culture I'm okay with not normal!

    godlessgirl · June 19, 2009 at 6:12 am

    I like that you clarified that distinction, Mori. I'm glad it's working out for you all! I have a relative who is part of a triad, and it seems to be wonderful for them. It seems much too complicated for me. Then again, I already admitted my selfishness.

    Kylyssa Shay · July 3, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I wanted to point out that polyamory is not the exclusive property of the polyfidelitous. How on earth would you add another person to a couple without dating? I'd wager it's very rare that three people meet all at once then all get into a relationship together at the same time. In my experience, a couple that is open to a polyamorous relationship then finds and falls in love with a third and so on. Also, it's probably incredibly rare for the very first person a couple dates to be "the one" – it's almost impossible to be poly without, at some point, being open – otherwise – where does that third come from?

    I'd like to point out that poly comes in many shapes and sizes. When we are living an alternative lifestyle it is like living in a glass house. There's no one right way to do it.

No Guy in the Sky · June 20, 2009 at 11:17 am

The tweet. "Not a big fan, but my ex-wife was a fan." lol I too am selfish. If I am committed to a woman, I do not want to share. My Ex Christian wife(lmao) also was a fan. Jesus always forgives, I am not Jesus. lol

mstone449 · June 25, 2009 at 7:05 pm

I think that we a socialized and conditioned to be monogamous just like we are socialized and conditioned to believe in god, think we should own a house and invest in our 401k. Life is shades of grey and that is where the beauty and magic lies. Being true to oneself requires stepping outside of the conditioning and finding people who will support you in your journey to discover who you truly want to be when u grow up and what u want ur life to look like.

Valentin · July 2, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Jealousy is an instinct which has a role for ensuring the spread of the genes of an individual. Specially for a male. It is better to ensure a minimum of children than trying to maximize and fail. So OK, jealousy makes you feel bad. But is it necessary? If you compare, the role of hunger for example, is really more important. And here jealousy seems to be useless. I say OK. But in that case, why do you have sex in first place? The only role of sex is reproduction. Of course you have pleasure, but it is exactly the same has bad feeling when feeling cheated on. So if we do things so that we feel good, then we can legitimately ask for a faithful relationship.
In theory, open relationship would be perfect. The problem is that we do not tell really our feelings. How could I be sure that a partner would be OK on having an open relationship. How could I be sure this person is not thinking: "if it is the only way I can keep him, then I will do it, and maybe one day, it will change". And not only with the partner. But also with the other sexual partners. I meet someone at a party, we talk a lot, then we are going to have sex. And then I tell her: "Oh before we do that, I have to say, I have a girlfriend. But she is OK with that." Sounds weird. Is it enough time for the person reconsider having sex? Because many people associate sex with other feelings, how could I know this person is OK with that? Maybe she was expecting more than sex. How can you know?
To the question are humans monogamous or polygamous… Well try to think about what should be the fittest in evolution. I does not depends on who it is, but how much opportunities you have. Certainly better to stay with someone safe if you do not have much other opportunities. But if lots of people are interested, you might change of mind. It is specially true for men. In a pure polygamous context, if you want to be fairly sure to have children, you should reproduce more often and with more partners than the average of other males. Or you can choose monogamy. Well, do not take my word as truth. That is just what I feel. I am monogamous, but I have dreams as well.

Sue · July 5, 2009 at 6:34 pm

I've seen polyamorous relationships work, and fail miserably. Also seen monogomous relationships fail miserably and work like magic. I don't think there is a 'right' way to exist in the world. In relationships or otherwise. The key seems to be honesty. Personally I could be fulfilled only having sex with one person for the next 40 years. I have no desire to be in an open relationship. That would only be selfish if my partner wanted something else. Just as many open relationships are selfish when one partner 'gives in' and accepts it. The beauty of the human mind is the ability to reason and not be driven purely by genetics or physical urges. We have the capacity to make decisions about how we will act and treat those around us.

Michael Australia · December 3, 2009 at 12:35 am

Well this might be an old post but the insights and resonable discussion on here has impressed me.

It really is so so so simple. If you want an open or monogamous relationship that's 100% fine.

But the problem comes about when others start ranting on how either way is better or immoral or boring. I know some that go on and on about monogamy yet I have caught them at venues without their partner doing stuff with others.

It's to me so simple – be monogamous if you think it is right for you and 'healthy" or sexually experiment with others bring others into your relationship if that is what you both want. So simple. But to get on soapboxes and rant for hours about how one is better – that causes more problems than the acts.

Jacob · December 25, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I think this is an interesting topic. With thoughts posted like: Is it natural for humans to lean towards monogamy or polygamy? The selfish aspects of monogamy; the selfish aspects of polygamy; the selfish aspects of anything in between. Okay, I’m going for the quick shot. Just typing what comes out of my brain on the spot here. Pardon the generalizations and over or under exaggerations.

Monogamy says: I want to have only you, and I want you to have only me. I’m enough for you and you’re enough for me. If you make me your only one, it is worth it for me to make you my only one.

Cheating(initially): I want you to want me only, but I’m not sure you are enough for me. Let me check and get back to you. (Chronically): I assume you want me only. Thanks. You aren’t enough for me, but I realize if I let you know that plainly, you’ll see I’m not enough for you.

Open relationship says: I want you sometimes, and I’m only available to you sometimes. You are not enough for me and I don’t care if I’m enough for you.

Polygamy says: I want you sometimes, and I’m only available to you sometimes. You are half(or less) than enough for me and I better be enough for you.

I think monogamy is idealistic. And I think jealousy and selfishness can easily permeate any relationship of any time. But I have yet to meet a happy love triangle in the retirement homes. Never met an old man or an old woman who says “Me, George, and Lucy are still in love after 25 years!” or “boy, if it hadn’t been for Samantha, I’m not sure I would have as great a time with Steve that 3 years we were in love in college.” All I’m saying is: are you who go after open or polygamous relationships viewing it from what works or what works best for you and the people involved? In our old age, will it cause you to say “it was fun”, “I wish we hadn’t, what a waste of years”, “it was tolerable and a learning experience” or “I wouldn’t have done it any other way”? And what would the other persons involved say in their old age? Just food for thought. I don’t claim to know for sure. I’m 25 only and while I had some very promiscuous days, I was never bold enough to try more than one relationship at once. So, all this is suppositions and my outside opinions, but I think this subject requires much more consideration than we give it, no matter what we conclude.

Colie the Magical Closet Athiest · April 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I honestly don’t think I could ever be in an open relationship :/ I prefer exclusivity, closeness, and intimacy too much. I’ve seen it work before though… although that couple eventually broke up due to jealousy issues. Who knows? Maybe some people can be in a polyamorous situation successfully and some people just can’t.

Pandeism · July 29, 2011 at 3:23 am

I try to make sure every person I get involved in a relationship with understands that I am a Pandeist, and my sexual morality is guided by Pandeism…. given my belief that our Creator experiences existence through us, I desire to give our Creator the gift of varied sexual experiences while avoiding the experience of insecurities and hurt feelings…. I cannot be insecure if my lover loves another as well, for the other is part of our Creator as well, and so in a distant and somewhat abstract sense, is a part of me as well…. I have had some success in multi-polyamorous communal households with about equal numbers of male and female flatmates who either were Pandeists or were able to engage in that aspect of Pandeism, and so to enjoy that any of us could have sex with any other of us as they wished with no possessiveness or hard feelings.

pilebake · August 2, 2011 at 4:48 am

Jealousy is now not a big issue.. Sexual life is one of the phenomena causes of broke up couple.A studay shows that men and women are not satisfied from each other. They are not in open relationship and still not satisfied their physical needs..

snoringbear · March 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm

If I have a chance to meet other girl, I will spend its time to make my wife happier.

Diana · November 22, 2015 at 3:56 am

I’m glad that you included that idluvidians should look at more than their genetic predispositions, as looking inward can be easily overlooked whilst in the midst of selfish behavior.I realize there are many people who cheat, each with their own logical and/or illogical reasons for doing so. Therefore I try to make a concerted effort to avoid judgment, however I’m always floored by the politicians who cheat and think that the media will not catch up with their indiscretions. I mean, I get it: ego, but honestly, John Edwards in particular has some major balls to think he could run for the most powerful seat in the world and get away with infidelity. I mean, really John? The media reports on the flavor mint that is left upon your pillow at night, but they won’t dare find out about your mistress? I mean, really? Wow, talk about shooting yourself in the foot.Interesting research, well,jenji

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Tweeps Speak: Open Relationships « Loving More · June 21, 2009 at 11:46 am

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