Debate: Can Open Relationships Ever Work?

Two STELLAR writers go head-to-head.


Victoria Stokes, Deputy Editor, says YES

Let me begin this by saying I have weird opinions about monogamy. I’ve always been completely faithful to previous partners and I’d be absolutely devastated if a boyfriend cheated on me, but I don’t necessarily agree that we’re supposed to be with just one person.

Romantic relationships are kind of like ice cream. There are so many flavours out there and just because you’re a honeycomb kind of gal doesn’t mean you don’t occasionally fancy a scoop of chocolate or vanilla.

Of course I’m not condoning cheating in any way (I believe there’s a special place in hell for anoyone who would coldly and deliberately break someone’s trust in that way) I just think that for some couples, variety is what works best.

It’s a weird thing to suggest that we could have all our needs met by just one person and I fully understand anyone who says they need different things from different people. After all, we don’t rely on just one friend for everything, do we? Maybe you have a pal who you’d happily confide your deepest, darkest problems to but woudn’t dream of going on a night out with. Or maybe you have a friend who’s great at dishing out the GnTs but isn’t so fab at doling out advice when you need it. Why can’t romantic relationships work in the same way?

Of course, it takes a very particular type of couple to successfully navigate an open relationship. It requires two very secure, trusting and open people with the ability to set very clear boundaries and communicate their wants and needs effectively. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s natural that a multitude of people will pique your interest over the course of your life, so why – if your partner’s cool with it and you can keep jealousy at bay – can’t you have the best of both worlds?

Grace McGettigan, Staff Writer, says NO

Call me old fashioned, call me a prude. But to me, being ‘in a relationship’ means you’re committed exclusively to one person, and one person alone. Having one person to share your life with, emotionally and sexually, creates a special bond that I wouldn’t swap for anything. That’s why the idea of an open relationship feels wrong to me. The thought of either partner going off and being intimate with someone else sounds heartbreakingly painful. It raises the question, ‘Am I not good enough?’ And ‘Why aren’t I worthy?’ It also spells nothing but anxiety for someone with low self-esteem. Surely if you love a person, and truly care for them and their feelings, actually having sex with someone else wouldn’t enter the equation.

Not to mention the logistics of it all. Scheduling your time between work, family and friends is difficult enough without throwing in an extra lover. I mean, I hardly get a chance to hang out with my main man – nevermind a side bae – and that’s not counting the effort it takes to WhatsApp regularly and tag each other in memes. Something’s always got to give, right? So cue the drama. What happens when you want to spend time with your S/O but he’s already made plans with someone else? Or if something happens where you need his emotional support and he’s already naked in her bed? I, for one, couldn’t handle it, and I know for a fact that it would end in tears.

Then, considering the potential health risks of unsafe sex with multiple partners, and emotional, the possibility of falling for one person more than the other, are I think open relationships are practically destined to fail. If anything, it’s glorified cheating, and I am so not down with that at all.

This article first appeared in the December issue of STELLAR Magazine. Our January issue is on shelves now. 

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