I have two relationships. For me they are the most binding and intimate bonds in my life. Sometimes I forget that it’s not as natural as it feels. People are always surprised that I don’t have wild orgies, change sexual partners every week or jump from one short-term relationship to the next. Often people do not associate polyamory and open relationships with permanence and commitment. They are seen as an adventure, a short excursion into the world of the doubtlessly unconventional and the alternative from the norm.

Active and Inactive Open Relationships

That’s why it’s often harder for me to feel taken seriously. When my way of leading and loving relationships is minimized or trivialized, it feels like people are basically just waiting for it to end soon and they can make me a living proof that polyamory doesn’t work. I never had this feeling when I started to open up to non-monogamous forms of relationship. I felt understood and seen and I took my needs very seriously. At least as long as I’m actively engaged in open relationships.

I say active because for me there is also an inactive. Active means that I now feel like dating people and getting involved in all kinds of interpersonal relationships. I feel my desire for others and I want to pursue it. In contrast, I’m in a kind of standby mode when I’m talking about inactive. For me, both have one important principle of open relationships in common, namely the fact that desire is not exclusive. It can change and change at any time. I believe that open relationships, however different and diverse they may be, initially recognize and welcome desire as something non-exclusive.

Open thinking is not the same as open acting

As long as I actively engage in open relationships, I feel part of a polyamorous and open relationship community, where I feel seen and perceived. As soon as I disappear into a kind of monopoly bubble and my desire is directed for a short or long time exclusively at my partner(s), I no longer feel perceived. Then, as so often, I am faced with the question of how open my open relationship must be for it to be considered as such? At what point can you call yourself polyamorous?

For me it’s not about the number of lovers, dates or relationships I have. For me it is about the possibility that I could desire other people and the fact that it is not seen as false, deceitful or selfish that I feel this desire. I’ve often felt in my life that I somehow had to justify not having as many dates as other people in open relationships and at least as often I’ve wondered if I’m suppressing my desire because I’m afraid that relationships could get complicated.

At some point I finally came to the conclusion that I desire as much as I do. People have different needs and that’s mine. I think it’s perfectly okay to define yourself as an open relationship, even if you rarely feel the need to actually live it out. As long as it is possible, it is not a taboo and as long as it is not a taboo, it is a part of the relationship that plays a role sometimes more and sometimes less. I think that in the end it is a question of openness and honesty whether one actually talks about open relationships when one’s own desire changes or whether in the end one only finds the title “open relationship” pretty.