Every relationship has its own rules – and an open relationship is no different. It’s not for everyone… But it is for some, and it’s becoming more popular (and acceptable) as couples – young and old – choose to explore non-traditional types of relationships.
What does it mean to be in an open relationship?
The Urban Dictionary defines an open relationship as “a relationship in which two people agree that they want to be together, but can’t exactly promise that they won’t see other people too. Basically, to have it all: a significant other and the freedom to hook up with other people”.
It’s not a ‘one size fits all’
Every relationship has its own rules – and an open relationship is no different.
For some, it might mean the freedom to casually date and sleep with other people. While for others, it could mean having an intimate, loving relationship with more than one person.
Deciding to have an open relationship is not something you ‘sleep on’. The move requires stability, reciprocity and honesty – lots of it!
What about jealousy?
As your partner experiences the thrill of budding romance, it’s bound to shake things up in your relationship – leading to feelings of fear, insecurity or possessiveness.
Jealousy (whether you’re in an open relationship or not) is normal, but not a deal-breaker, for the functioning of an open relationship. The key to working through jealousy is to acknowledge your triggers, set boundaries and keep talking.
You’re going to get jealous
You’re only human, so obviously you’re going to feel different emotions when your partner recounts an awesome date, or flirts over text with someone else in your presence.
If you are an overly-jealous type person, then an open relationship probably isn’t for you.
Well-known couple on the social media streets, Erica and Marlo, have set tongues wagging after airing their dirty laundry in public, sparking a debate on whether open marriages really work. Apart from the domestic violence accusations that have marred the marriage, the couple seems to not have been on the same page on whether their marriage was open.
As a result, Erica has accused the husband of cheating on her, while Marlo says there was no cheating as they had an open marriage, even providing WhatsApp conversations apparently between the two of them talking about their marriage arrangement.
Erica said: “Umuntu akfebele [a person cheats on you]. Next thing you’re being called umuntu [a person] who’s in an open marriage, meanwhile you didn’t even know. Wtf! When did I sign up for that?”
In a series of tweets, she exposed the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, resulting in dentists appointment to fix her teeth following her husband’s violence. She also slammed those who were criticising her for going public with her marital issues.
“I’m wrong? Not everything he’s done to me? Not the dentist appointments I’ve had to have booked after he physically hurt me, to the point where he has to fix my now broken teeth or I lose my job? Do you really know who he is? I’m wrong, right?
“I’m so done with this marriage. Respecting/protecting your private life gets you nowhere when the person you had been ‘respecting and protecting’ was the one in everyone’s DMs trying to get lucky, but they were married. Embarrassing.
“It’s sh*t like this that makes me regret not going to the cops. Because of a little ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘we’ve got the medical aid to fix your teeth, okay?'”
Also read: Can open romantic relationships really work?
However, Marlo says it is Erica who has always had an issue with anger.
“I can’t count the amount of times I would get pushed or hit, get things thrown at me during an argument all because I wanted to walk out the house to get some air to calm the situation. Every time I’d ask her to stop hitting me I’d get a ‘or what!? Are you gonna hit me?’ response,” he said.
While she has told people her teeth got chipped after a punch or slap from her husband, he says he shoved her to the floor, she fell on her face and got hurt after she broke his phone for recording one of their violent fights.
“I’m not saying what I did is justified, it was wrong. But Erica must not twist the truth and make it seem like I’ve been abusing her throughout the relationship just because I eventually retaliated to her bullsh*t!”
While their followers on social media at first thought the drama was a publicity stunt for a YouTube channel, the events that have unfolded since have left them convinced the couple was fighting for real.
While some of their social media followers have advised them to seek professional help, others have advised them to just call it quits.
Additional reporting by All4Women