Can an Open Relationship Ruin Your Relationship?

Actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive for the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros "Focus," February 24, 2015 at TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California.  AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK        (Photo: Robyn Peck/AFP/Getty Images)

Can an Open Relationship Ruin Your Relationship?

Most guys don’t think so.

Published July 11th

“How do you feel about an open relationship?” Believe it or not, this is the question guys are asking on a date. Reading this, your first reaction is probably, “WHAT?” But men desire to know if that’s an option within a relationship. Don’t fret; it’s not our No. 1 relationship dealbreaker. We're just curious.  

When two people come to an understanding that they want to be together but wish to see other people as well, commonly in a sexual way, we tend to define this as an open relationship. To most people, an open relationship translates to “sex with other people while you are in a committed relationship.” Committed open relationships therefore would seem like an oxymoron. Men I spoke with about these sorts of relationship arrangements do not think so. If fact, these men feel these agreements demonstrate the seriousness of the relationship.

Can a threesome ruin your relationship? According to guys, not necessarily.

What an open relationship means:

“It’s definitely not for everyone and your feelings can’t be as severely attached as in a monogamous one,” says Moises Campbell, 26, from Atlanta. Moises feels “you must remain borderline, no matter how the pie is cut. Your expectations have to be in place and I don’t think the open relationship should be ‘advertised’ or shared casually.” Men feel that open relationships go left due to undefined rules. People rely on the basic textbook explanation of “open relationship” and never really discuss what it means for the partners at hand. What boundaries, rules, acceptable behaviors and so forth need to be established? Open relationships fail when guidelines and trust don’t exist.

Freedom vs. cheating:

Statistically, about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Factors that end a marriage commonly stem from financial issues and infidelity. “Commitment issues” continue to be the stake that ends relationships prior to marriage. For women, these commitment issues manifest in thoughts like, “I've been hurt before” or ” I don’t need a man to take care of me” or, as my female friend in Brooklyn says, “the abundance of f**k boys in the universe."

For most men, the commitment issues revolve around one idea, “Do I want to have sex with the same person… forever?” We can find our Beyoncé or “the one” with the perfect body, brains, booty and career. We adore her, create kids with her and work 80 hours a week to build a home for her. However, there is Becky with the good hair. Becky is easy and fun. Becky sits home all day and likes sex. Becky only possesses fractions of what we like about our dream girl! Becky is open-minded to the idea of video games, strip clubs and weed. Becky likes to workout everyday. Matter of fact, we met her at the gym. We can either ask our partner can we bring Becky home or sneak to Becky’s home. Men want to avoid Becky because she is just a horny man's play thing, but in most cases, we cant. BAM, divorced! Because there's only one Lemonade, you know. 

Yes, self-control plays a factor for men and an honest conversation with their partner about why Becky is distracting can possibly help. The rapper Pitbull publicly supported the idea that open relationships can work. (If you want to take life advice from him, that's your thing.) Men like Pitbull see open relationships as an agreement that allows two adults to live freely sexually when they are not physically around each other. So he can entertain other women outside of his relationship when his partner is not present and his partner can do the same. Pitbull's motto is “what the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t feel.” The primary rule is that they communicate and tell each other everything. This leads to the next point.

Some myths associated with open relationships:

“Guys in open relationships have no boundaries.” FALSE! A successful open relationship is built on boundaries. Trevor King, 31, from Washington, D.C., says, “My wife is OK with us having threesomes with other women, as long as she is treated like a queen and given full control of the sexual situation."

“For an open relationship to happen, both partners must be present at all times,” JT Roberts, 21, from Miami said. Heterosexual men desire to be physically involved at all times when the situation includes two or more of the opposite sex. If the heterosexual male's female partner wants another male to entertain her, the heterosexual male typically prefers not be present. Gay men typically want to be present if a more submissive male was the third person versus another dominant man.

“Open relationships imply that guys don’t take their partners seriously!” Actually, it could mean men are being upfront versus cheating. Jada Pinkett Smith once admitted her and Will Smith had an open marriage. Jada feels just because her husband finds another woman attractive, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her. She referred to the open marriage as a “grown relationship.”

Open relationships do not mean “no strings attached” or “friends with benefits,” according to research. Often people confuse these situations with an open relationship, but they are actually different.

Finally, men believe open relationships are not just physical. In some cases, open relationships become physical due to some emotional connection with someone else outside of your relationship. For instance, you can connect with someone on an emotional level. This connection leads to enjoyment of quality time, dinner dates, trips and other experiences commonly shared by two individuals in a relationship. This connection also leads to behavior similar to Rihanna's verses on "Wild Thoughts"! Is that at an open relationship? Emotional connection can be just as tricky as a physical one.

Open relationships can save relationships

Will an open relationship ruin your current one? Guys tend to think not. Open relationships can be beneficial towards saving an existing relationship. For high school sweethearts from a small town or two high-profile celebrities like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, both couples who married very young, this arrangement could save them. After several years together, one or both individuals may feel the relationship isn’t fun anymore. To spice up the relationship, adding other people could make the relationship interesting again. Why not experience it together? An open relationship can prevent infidelity.

Guys, tend to want the “wholesome virtuous woman. These women are amazing, but we usually cheat on them due to their lack of sexual experience when it comes to pleasing us," according to Randy Griffin, 31, from Texas. “This woman I was dating was at time my perfect girl, but she really didn’t know how to sexually take care of me. We had a good relationship as far communication, so I told her sexually she was too unexperienced. We would watch porn together and everything with hopes that she could learn some tricks. Porn didn’t help. So finally, I asked can we bring in another woman. Surprisingly, she was open to the idea! We tried it and it actually turned her on instructing the other girl how to please me. At first I was actually nervous. I thought she would be insecure.” Randy's story is a prime example of communication and being open! 

Open relationships and marriages are not as negatively perceived nowadays as they were in the past. So women, before you block someone's profile on a dating app because the profile reads “open relationships +,” reconsider the benefits. 

To us guys, open relationships don’t ruin relationships; they actually enhance and save them. Damn, maybe this story would’ve helped save Rob Kardashian and Black Chyna's relationship from crashing and burning. See, we men are open-minded.  

Written by Maurice Marcel

(Photo: Robyn Peck/AFP/Getty Images)

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