5 People In Open Relationships Tell Us The Most Painfully Tired Misconceptions They Face

An open relationship can look different for each couple. At its broadest definition, an open relationship is a consensual, non-monogamous relationship. Licensed counselor Leteria Price told PSYCOM what was imperative for an open relationship's success. "Everyone has to be on the same page for open relationships to work," she said. "It's the emotional connection and not the physical that's most important in these relationships."

Thankfully, the stigma around open relationships is lessening. YouGov conducted a survey in 2021 and discovered that a quarter of Americans are interested in having an open relationship. Of the generations surveyed, Millennials showed the most interest, with 41% of them expressing an appeal toward open relationships. Still, as society grows more accepting of open relationships, there are still some misconceptions about them. We wanted insight from those that truly know and live the concept. So, Women.com spoke with five people in open relationships and got their take on the most common misunderstandings.

Opening yourselves to other partners doesn't mean your primary relationship is flawed

For those who have been raised to think we all need just one partner to be happy, it can be easy to assume that opening a relationship means that one partner isn't satisfying them. But this isn't actually how it works at all. We spoke with respondent Will, 40, who told us, "People assume that we are afraid of commitment or unwilling to fully invest in one another." He explained that open relationships can have the same levels of commitment as monogamous relationships, but with different definitions. "For some, commitment may involve emotional intimacy and support, while for others it may involve sexual fidelity."

Melissa, 39 also spoke about misconceptions she's faced about her primary relationship. She explained that the most common fallacy she's seen is that her open relationship is unstable and fraught with jealousy — but that this couldn't be farther from the truth. "My partner and I entered our open relationship with a foundation of trust, open communication, and a mutual understanding of our individual needs," she told us. "In fact, it's our strong emotional connection and commitment to each other that allows us to explore our desires freely and honestly."

Melissa offered a suggestion for those considering opening up their relationship. She said that setting clear boundaries from the start is imperative. "This means having open conversations about what each person is comfortable with and ensuring everyone's on the same page," she said. "Trust me, it's essential to the health of your relationship."

Open relationships aren't deceptive

Another common assumption around open relationships is the belief that each person has a large number of partners. Chuck, 33, who's in a relationship with both Kaitlin and Calvin, told us just how untrue this is given the demands of daily life. "People often assume that 'open' means that I want to casually date 10 people," Chuck said. "I'm a parent and I run a business, so I don't have a lot of time. I really like my relationships to be deep and I couldn't sustain more than two partnerships right now."

Kaitlin, 27, expanded on Chuck's statement and clarified their history together. Interestingly, they pair began their relationship in a non-monogamous way. "A lot of people think that we opened our relationship up once we were together, but Chuck and I were both polyamorous for over 5 years before we started dating," Kaitlin explained. She said that new partners can sometimes feel awkward about encroaching on their relationship, but she said no one gets too territorial. "We are so comfortable and relaxed in our open lifestyle, and we really like having a tight-knit group of people we love and care about."

Calvin, 29, explained another common misconception — that open relationships are kept secret from the rest of the world. "[All] of our parents and friends know. Chuck's kids know," he added. "It's not a shameful secret. We practice kitchen table polyamory and are very close. It's a lot more wholesome than people might realize!"