Will open relationships someday become generally accepted? Why? Why Not? What do you think?
By Esther Perel
Last updated on Sep 28, 2023
Photo: Jacob Lund, Thomas Aradea, WADLEN, and Noval Pratama via Canva
“Open relationships” where both members of a couple are “allowed” to have adult relations with other people, remain a relatively fringe practice.
But is it possible that open relationships will be a new way of keeping relationships stronger and more lasting?
This question of monogamy, polyamory, and fidelity as defined in terms of sexual exclusivity, is the new frontier. The next line that will be questioned.
We used to shun premarital intercourse, but now it is practically par for the course in the West. Homosexuality was also shunned, but today, thankfully, it is far more widely accepted.
We have moved from a general culture of sexual duty to sexual pleasure for women.
Next, will monogamy need to be negotiated and not just assumed?
Couples are negotiating the boundaries of their relationships as a way to preserve their relationships. This is, I think, a key point to understanding this new frontier.
It is done not out of disillusion, but out of hope and commitment.
Non-monogamy is not for everyone, and there should be no societal pressure either way.
People live much longer today than in previous generations. This means that committing to a partner has a different implication.
Our lives are often long. What does this extended lifespan mean for our romantic and sexual choices, growth, and patterns?
Will monogamy be relativized? Will a new norm include periods of openness? Could relationships evolve to mostly monogamous, rather than open or closed as fixed entities? Might there be agreements that are revisited at different stages of the lifecycle?
Flexibility is a keyword here.
This will be how we may approach an understanding — that in this new culture, it will be possible to recognize that people may have more than one marriage with the same person, with different rules and boundaries along the way.
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Esther Perel is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show and whose work has been published in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Vogue, Ha’aretz, The Guardian, and more.