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Things you should know about open relationships

by Gaby Agbulos

HAVE you ever found yourself wishing you could date more than one person at the same time? If your answer’s yes, then the type of relationship you’re searching for might just be an open one.

The simple explanation of an open relationship is being in a relationship wherein both partners agree to have more than one partner, whether sexual or romantic, at a time. The dynamics of a relationship such as this, however, are often misunderstood both by the media and by society.

Sadly, it hasn’t really had much representation over the years, and the times that it has been shown on TV or in films, it’s usually been portrayed in a negative light – something to be seen as taboo just because it’s out of the ordinary. 

The 2019 Filipino film Open, for example, shows a couple who’ve been together for 14 years. Later on, though, the guy (Ethan) wants to turn the relationship into an open one after he starts to feel that the relationship’s gotten rather boring. 

The girl (Rome) says yes, but only because she feels this is the only way she’ll be able to keep him around. Their relationship, though, starts to struggle because of their lack of trust in each other – a deadly thing given their open set-up.

Portrayals like these present open relationships to be something meant for manipulation, or as something that’s just about sex. But open relationships are so much more than that. 

When done correctly, they can be healthy and beautiful, just like any other relationship. 

Before you get into one, though, here are some things you should take into consideration, as advised by someone who has entered into an open relationship.  

  1. It isn’t a free pass to hook up with whoever you want.

Just like any other relationship, there are boundaries you need to follow, or rather ground rules that you need to set up to ensure that nothing goes awry. 

Something you should discuss with your partner beforehand, for example, is how much you’re allowed to do with other people. 

Can you have sex with them, can you go on dates with them? How far is too far? What can and can’t you do? How much do you want to know about the people either of you are dating? Are both of you going to be seeing other people, or just one?

27-year-old Lei Anya Chun, whose last relationship was an open one, didn’t exactly enter it willingly. 

Her relationship started during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she and her ex were on and off for three years. They were both 23 to 24 years old at the time. 

In the beginning, they were still monogamous, and Chun was under the impression that it would stay that way. Later on, though, she found out that he’d cheated on her. 

It was then that he confessed that he’d realized early on in their relationship that he missed pursuing other people, but kept it a secret from Chun because he was ashamed of that fact. Chun eventually forgave him and agreed to enter an open relationship setup, thinking it would make things more transparent between them. 

“The transition from being monogamous to being open was extremely difficult for me,” she shared. “Looking back at it now, it was a band-aid solution in response to my fear of being cheated on again by this person.”

This is why in any open relationship, more than anything, there needs to be consent from both parties and the proper setting of boundaries throughout the relationship. Ideally, you should still disclose what you do with your partner whenever needed, don’t just leave them in the dark.

  1. Communication is still a must.

Open relationships follow many of the tenets of any other kind of relationship. Here, it’s important to remember that trust, honesty, and open communication are still things that you need to follow at all times.

Communication may vary depending on the couple, but some things that are important in an open relationship are constantly checking in with one another and giving each other reassurance that you only love each other and no one else. 

Chun found this to be one of the most painful parts of her relationship. She recounted that oftentimes, her ex wouldn’t follow the rules they’d set down, and would neglect to reassure her or communicate with her. 

One time, he even went on Reddit pretending to be her, leaking explicit photos of her as a means of finding a girl that would be interested in a threesome with them.

“I learned the hard way that even if you’re in a non-monogamous relationship, your partner can still betray you and break your trust,” she said.  

Chun believes that with more flexibility comes more responsibility, and in an open relationship, you have to reassure your partner more often than in a monogamous one. 

Honesty and vulnerability are needed for your relationship to survive. If you’re feeling insecure or are starting to get jealous, tell your partner about it. Aside from this, you constantly have to show that you’re emotionally committed to them. 

With this, she recommends first building a strong foundation of trust with your first partner before pursuing other people.

As such, she wouldn’t recommend relationships like these to people with self-esteem issues, or to couples wherein a breach of trust has already happened in the past.

Aside from this, communication is also important, especially if you’re in an open relationship set-up wherein one or both of you are allowed to have sex with other people. It’s important to know if you’re staying safe, or if you’re using protection because STD and HIV rates in the Philippines are higher than you think.

If you’re willing to go the extra mile, get tested every once in a while, just to be safe – which is something single and monogamous people should be doing too, BTW. 

  1. It isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. 

Though Chun’s experience being in an open relationship wasn’t exactly ideal, she explained that there are still many people who’ve managed to maintain open relationships and have been together for a number of years.

There’s still a huge stigma around this kind of setup in the Philippines, since it’s a place where people still tend to be conservative and monogamous. 

But if you erase this stigma, open relationships can be wonderful. As per Gracia Odile of Style Craze, it’s a great way to experience new adventures, new perspectives, as well as to meet new people. 

Open relationships 101

There are many types of open relationships. 

There’s polyamory, wherein you form a relationship with more than just one person. There’s hierarchical polyamory, where there’s a primary relationship consisting of two people who date other people. 

There’s the throuple or triad, where three partners are dating one another, and the Closed V, where only two members of a triad share a relationship, not including the other person in the relationship. For example, A is dating both B and C, but B is only dating A. 

The list goes on and on. You can try out these set-ups given the consent of your partner, and if ever there is a time wherein you no longer feel comfortable or happy with said set-up, that’s perfectly okay. It’s your relationship, after all.

As long as you’re enjoying it and don’t feel as if you’re being pressured into what you’re doing, whether it be getting into an open relationship or getting out of one, then f*ck what anyone else may think or say.

To all the people hoping to enter open relationships, Chun says this: “I hope you end up with partners who wholeheartedly treat you with love and respect.” 



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