Open Relating: A GASM Guide
Love and intimacy is constantly changing. Over the past few years, open relating has become more and more accepted and understood. At GASM some of us are actively open relating right now (Hey there good looking…) And those of us who are not open relating have explicitly discussed with our partners whether it’s right for us. While it isn’t right for everyone, open relating isn’t just a fleeting, permissive trend. Advocates of open relating suggest that maybe humans aren’t meant to mate for life in exclusively monogamous setups. Open relating might offer, to some of us at least, a more healthy way of having relationships.
What is Open Relating?
Open relating is more commonly known as having an open relationship. It’s a form of non-monogamy where both partners agree that they and/or their partner can form physical or emotional relationships outside the boundaries of their partnership. This approach to relationships stems from the belief that one person doesn't have to meet all of an individual's needs. But, like any relationship model, it requires mutual respect, understanding, and most importantly, communication.
Why Open Relate?
1. Personal Growth
Open relationships often challenge what society says is acceptable. If you’re open relating it naturally pushes you to venture outside your comfort zones. This form of relationship can lead to:
Self-awareness: Engaging with multiple partners can help you understand your desires, boundaries, and insecurities better.
Emotional Resilience: Navigating the complexities of multiple relationships can improve your emotional strength and maturity.
Enhanced Communication Skills: Open relating often requires more frequent and open communication, improving your ability to express feelings and needs clearly.
2. Diverse Needs
Everybody is unique, with many different needs that one person might not fully satisfy, including:
Emotional Needs: While one partner might provide you with emotional stability, another could offer you spontaneity and excitement.
Physical Needs: Different partners can fulfill different sexual desires, leading to a deeper and more satisfying sex life.
Intellectual Needs: Having multiple partners can scratch an intellectual itch and provoke deeper conversations and a wider variety of topics than you might be having with just one partner.
3. Strengthening the Primary Relationship
Though it might seem counterintuitive to some people, open relationships can, in fact, strengthen the bond in your primary relationship:
Reignited Passion: Exploring connections outside the primary relationship can revitalize the spark within it.
Deepened Appreciation: Relating with others can lead to a more profound understanding of the qualities of your primary partner.
Improved Communication: The need for clear communication in open relationships can translate to better conversations and understanding in your primary relationship.
4. Exploring Sexuality
Sexuality is a spectrum, and open relating can provide you with a safe and accepting environment for exploring it:
Understanding Desires: With multiple partners, you need to better learn their needs and preferences.
Overcoming Stigmas: Open relationships can help you challenge and overcome negative societal attitudes attached to certain sexual preferences and fantasies.
Enhancing Confidence: Being in an accepting and open environment can boost your confidence in your sexual identity and choices.
Tips for a Successfully Open Relating
Keep the Primary Relationship a Priority: While exploring outside connections can be exciting and fulfilling, it's important to continue to nurture your primary relationship, to keep it strong and secure. Otherwise you’re just going through a slow break-up. (If you want to break up with your partner, just break up with them. Suggesting an open relationship is a rubbish compromise and does you, your partner, and open relating as a concept, no favors.)
Open and Honest Communication: Before diving in, both you and your partner should be on the same page. Discuss boundaries, what's acceptable, and what isn't. Revisit these conversations regularly.
Prioritize Emotional Well-being: You need to check in with each other’s emotional states, ensuring that jealousy or insecurities are addressed quickly.
Educate Yourself: Read books, articles, and search for resources online. GASM has plenty of material on open relating. Knowledge is power, and understanding the intricacies of open relating can help navigate potentially choppy waters.
Seek Support: Consider joining support groups or forums where people share their open relationship experiences. The GASM community has a lot to say about open relating. It’s really helpful to hear from others who are on a similar journey.
Safety First: If the open relationship includes multiple sexual partners, sexual health has got to be a priority. Regular health check-ups and transparent conversations about sexual activity are non-negotiable.
Challenges in Open Relating
Like any relationship style, open relating comes with its challenges:
Jealousy: While it's natural to feel jealous, it's how partners address these feelings that matter. Recognizing, understanding, and discussing these emotions can prevent potential conflicts.
Time Management: Juggling multiple relationships can become challenging. Managing time effectively is really important to keep all partners sweet (valued/prioritized/seen etc). An open-relating shared online calendar can be a thing of organizational beauty.
External Judgment: Society often has strong opinions about what relationships should look like. If you’re in an open relationship you could well face judgment or criticism. Keep grounded in your choices and find a supportive community who’ll help you navigate any incoming negativity.
The Evolving Perception of Relationships
As society progresses, there's a growing understanding and acceptance that love, intimacy, and relationships aren't one-size-fits-all. Open relating is gaining momentum, not as a counter-culture trend, but as a genuine exploration of human connections and love. Open relating challenges traditional notions of possessiveness in love and, done well, it can promote freedom, trust, and individual growth.
Open relating, when approached with respect, transparency, and care, can lead to personal growth and deepened relationships. It's not the ideal choice for everyone, but if you choose to head into the realm of open relating, you could end up understanding love in its many forms in a deeper and more profound way.
In the end, every relationship style, monogamous or open, thrives on trust, communication, and understanding. Embracing a relationship model, like open relating, should be a personal choice, made with careful thought and mutual respect. As society evolves its understanding of human connections, open relating could allow you to better explore the wonderful and multifaceted world of love.
Are you currently open relating? Have you thought about it? Are you opposed to it? Let us know in the comments below.