Would you try a monogamish relationship? We examine the modern day open relationship.
When Bronwyn*, a 32-year-old Toronto dermatologist, hit an indie-music night at a bar last winter, she was immediately taken with one of the singers. Joe* was an Alexander Skarsgård clone who had the eye of every gal in the room. Post-show, she sent him a Facebook message asking if he wanted to go for a drink. “We should go dancing sometime!” replied the 27-year-old. “By the way, I'm in an open relationship — is that cool?”
It’s safe to say that most people would respond with a firm “No.” But Bronwyn’s response was to send out an email to her girlfriends joking about what to wear on a date with a non-monogamous man. (The obvious punchline: “All your clothes at once.”) She met Joe for a few drinks, and they made each other laugh. It was a great first date — even though he already had a long-term girlfriend. None of this was really shocking for Bronwyn. Just a few months before, she had spent a lovely evening in a similar situation — except on that date the girlfriend was also present.
However unconventional Bronwyn’s dating life may seem, the number of couples who are in open relationships — or who have “come out” about being in one — seems to be increasing. One recent University of Utah study claims that 7 percent of straight couples are currently in one, but, beyond that, little research has been done on the subject. “There are no large-scale studies on open relationships that I know of,” says Deborah Anapol, a veteran relationship counsellor and author of Polyamory in the 21st Century. “But my impression is that the numbers are on the rise based on the growing number of people in open relationships who are seeking counselling and the growing number of people buying books about open relationships.”
Once a ’60s and ’70s pop-culture staple — thanks to key parties, freelove swinger clubs and John Updike novels — open relationship lifestyles today come with a new vocabulary. If you have not yet heard the terms “negotiated infidelity,” “non-monogamy,” “polyamory” and “monogamish,” you soon will. Whatever you call them, the modern-day open relationship encompass a wide variety of set-ups, from couples who swing with other people to couples who sleep (or form relationships) with others, separately or together. The only common denominators, generally, are honesty about who's doing what and a no-jealousy-allowed policy.
More on how an open relationship can be successful but what you should be aware of, on the next page...