The concept of an “open relationship” on the surface comes off as an oxymoron to me. When I think of the word relationship, I associate that to entail commitment, loyalty, and togetherness. If you are in a healthy relationship, I would imagine that means that two people are mutually dedicated to each other and the greater good of their relationship. If someone were to propose the idea of having an open relationship–my response would simply be, “Nice knowing you!” In other words, I would terminate the relationship at that point because I look at a relationship as all or nothing. If someone is not going to choose to only be with me and wants to keep their options open, that is not the relationship for me personally. I just do not see the point of that; however, at the same time, I do not like to judge others who have different viewpoints or expectations within their personal relationships because what works for me might not work for someone else.
If you are casually dating someone and it has not been established that both people are in a committed relationship, then by all means, keeping it “open” is acceptable because it is understood by both parties that the relationship is not a serious one or perhaps both people are taking a slower dating approach just to ensure that the connection is genuinely there. In those types of scenarios, I actually encourage people to keep their dating options open and to not overly invest in one person if it is casual because sometimes you have to explore what’s out there before making a commitment to someone and it is wiser to take your time in getting to know the person rather than rushing into a relationship immediately. Women tend to rush into relationships with the agenda of getting married and having children without actually determining if the man is a compatible match and suited for their future which is why you often see women asking for divorces down the line. This is why I believe it is better to take things slow and to not push for relationships until establishing a strong bond and confirming that the feelings are both mutual.
Now the real question is, if you are in a serious relationship or perhaps even married, can an open relationship work out while keeping the initial relationship in the long run? The simple yet not so simple answer is: Yes and No. Yes–it can absolutely work if you have two people totally on the same page with this arrangement. It is possible that both parties agree with keeping it open. However, it has to be equal where both people want the open relationship and NOT one sided where one person asked the other person for an open relationship and the other person felt obligated and settled on this arrangement against their will or for the sake of saving their current relationship. It also is not equal if one person can be in an open relationship but expects the other person to stay totally committed and are not allowed to pursue the same arrangement. While I think it is rare and often can ultimately create problems down the line for the couple, every relationship is situational in that maybe this can work for some people. Again, it can work when two people are on board with it but if you have people who have mixed feelings in regards to how they feel about having an open relationship, that is when you have trouble in paradise. It is for this reason that the best solution is to avoid this arrangement in its entirety or maybe this is a time to reflect whether or not it is time to break up and/or pursue a new relationship altogether.