Is Consensual Non-Monogamy For You? 5 Open Relationship Myths Busted

If you're open to "being open," you might find an abundance of love!

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Are you thinking of opening up your relationship to consensual non-monogamy?

Before you do that, it's important to look at the myths surrounding relationships and why you might want to consider an open relationship.

A 2017 study by Haupert and colleagues reported more than 20 percent of the U.S. population has engaged in consensual non-monogamy at some point in their lives.

As a sex therapist who works with such couples and individuals practicing consensual non-monogamy and open relationships, I'm guessing that 20 percent may be a low estimate today.


In the Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton, the authors debunk several myths about relationships and non-consensual monogamy.

RELATED: What Is An Open Relationship? 7 Tips For Couples To Have Fun With Ethical Non-Monogamy

So, if you're considering non-consensual monogamy, here are 5 myths about relationships that you need to know about.

1. The only "real" relationships are those that are monogamous.

Everyone is familiar with monogamy and knows how it works.


But, as my sex therapy supervisor once said, "If monogamy is the gold standard in relationships, what's the divorce rate again?"

Sometimes, we have an unrealistic view that we will lose interest in all others just because we're married.

How's that working out for you?

2. Loving someone means it's OK to control their behavior.

We know we can't control anyone but ourselves in reality.

Again as evidenced by the divorce rate and the number of infidelities that occur in monogamous relationships, it's unrealistic to think that we can prevent our spouse from having sex with someone else if they want to.

3. Jealousy is an insurmountable issue in an open relationship.

The interesting thing here is that it assumes being in a monogamous relationship will protect you from envy.


In monogamous relationships, people go to great lengths to hide their affairs and dalliances when having agreements.

Being honest and unlearning some of the "oughts" that lead to jealousy might be the more ethical and healing approach.

RELATED: The 3 Golden Rules That Make Our Open Relationship Work Seamlessly

4. Having other partners for sex reduces intimacy in your primary relationship.

With agreements in place and open and honest conversation, you may find that having other partners rekindles new relationship energy that overflows into your primary relationship.

5. Sexual desire is a destructive force or the only proper way to have sex is within a committed relationship.

These sex-negative ideas are throwbacks to the beginning of patriarchal and puritanical religions that warn that women's sexuality will lure men to their doom. (Think: the Garden of Eden mythology.)


In truth, what could be more creative than sexual desire, which we use to create new human beings, art, literature, music, and so much more? So much of our creativity resides in the sacral chakra — our sexual center.

You might like an open relationship if you find yourself in an "okay" marriage or partnership with no significant issues.

Still, maybe your partner doesn't like some of the bedroom activities you enjoy. Or perhaps you have mismatched sexual desire, one of the most common problems I see in couples therapy.

Maybe you have an interest or hobby your partner doesn't share.

It's difficult for one person to check all our boxes.

No one person be everything to us and meet all our needs. An open relationship creates room for those needs to be satisfied.


The way I see it is through a lens of abundance. Life is short and there's plenty of love available if you're open to that.

As a therapist, I can tell you I have seen open relationships that work and don't work — just like monogamous relationships!

Good communication skills are essential. And it's crucial to work out agreements in advance so everyone is on the same page.


More often, a woman shows up in individual therapy with me, freaked out because her husband or partner wants to open the relationship. We explore what's real, what's going on in their relationship, and how she feels about dating.

She reads and researches, learning everything she can about how open relationships work, and often ends up with a fuller and richer life.

Yes! You can thrive in an open relationship!

RELATED: I Tried Being The Third Person In An Open Relationship & Here’s What Happened

Paula Kirsch, LMSW, CST is a sex and relationship therapist and coach. She works with women and couples exploring enhancing their lives through relationships. Connect with her through her website or send her an e-mail.