Open relationship  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

An open relationship is a relationship in which the participants are free to have emotional and/or physical relationships with other partners, often within mutually agreed limits. If a couple in an open relationship are married, it can be called an open marriage.


Types of open relationships

  • Some relationships place strict restrictions on partners (e.g. polyfidelity); such relationships are polyamorous, but not open.
  • Some relationships permit sex outside the primary relationship, but not love (e.g. swinging); such relationships are sexually non-monogamous but not polyamorous or open.
  • Some polyamorists do not accept the dichotomies of "in a relationship/not in a relationship" and "partners/not partners"; without these divisions, it is meaningless to class a relationship as 'open' and 'closed'.
  • Some polyamorists consider 'polyamory' to be their philosophical orientation — they believe themselves capable and desirous of multiple loves — whereas 'open relationship' is used as a logistical description: that is, it is how their polyamory is expressed or implemented. They would say of themselves, for instance, "I am polyamorous; my primary partner and I have an open relationship (with the following ground rules)...."


While "open relationship" is sometimes used as a synonym for "polyamory" or "polyamorous relationship", these terms are generally differentiated. The "open" in "open relationship" usually refers to the sexual aspect of a non-closed relationship, whereas "polyamory" refers to the extension of a relationship by allowing bonds to form (which may be sexual or otherwise) as additional long term relationships. However, there is enough overlap between the two concepts that 'open relationship' is sometimes used as a catch-all substitute when speaking to people who may not be familiar with 'polyamory'.

Open relationships in popular culture

  • The Canadian rapper Abdominal has a song called "Open Relationship" on his album Escape from the Pigeon Hole about engaging in an open relationship.
  • British rapper The Streets references an open relationship in the song "Dry Your Eyes" on his album A Grand Don't Come for Free.
  • Popular sex educator Tristan Taormino is also an advocate of open relationships.
  • Some social networking sites, including Facebook and Orkut allow users to set their relationship statuses to in an open relationship.
  • Those in "open relationships" might refer to themselves as "O.R.F.F.s" (open relationship friends forever), a take on the more common abbreviation "B.F.F." which refers to "best friends forever".
  • Manitou rapper R. Allen enjoys an open (and bi-coastal) relationship. He claims to have gotten the inspiration to be "open" + "bi-coastal" while wrestling an octopus.

References to open relationships in the media

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Open relationship" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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