There is a lot of stigma – unfairly – around polyamory.
A polyamorous relationship simply means that individuals in the relationship are able to have multiple sexual or romantic partners at once.
But according to societal norms, monogamous relationships are the only acceptable kind.
That idea, however, is breaking down as open relationships become increasingly popular – and hopefully more accepted.
After all, there’s nothing wrong with consenting adults agreeing to be in a relationship.
And according to Colin Richards, a sex engineer and relationship therapist, “human beings are not designed to be sexually monogamous.”
He explained that “we may be able to be socially and emotionally monogamous,” but this was not a product of nature.
Instead, monogamy came about because we went from being hunters and gatherers to being territorial and agricultural, Richards said.
Before that, humans would share living space and sexual partners.
When people learned to grow crops, they had to stop being nomadic and team up with their offspring, he continued.
Since they would have no idea who their offspring were, due to having multiple partners, they stopped the females from having sex with other males to ensure the male would know who his offspring was.
We have, of course, moved on since then.
But proposing the idea of opening up your relationship can be intimidating.
There are a number of factors you should consider when discussing the possibility of opening up your relationship.
Honesty is key
Open communication is essential when discussing with your partner the idea of opening up your relationship, according to sex and relationships writer Sophie Blackman.
“If you don’t have honesty or trust, you are not going to be able to deal with a polyamorous relationship,” she added.
“Honesty is incredibly important because you’re inviting other people into your relationship and this means STIs can be brought into your relationship.”
After several failed monogamous relationships due to cheating on both sides, Adam (not his real name) started a polyamorous relationship with his current partner.
He said there were numerous benefits.
“It took away the fear of cheating and made us stronger and opened up the communication hugely because neither of us had to hide anything.”
What do you want to get out of it?
Do you just want to be able to kiss people on nights out? Have threesomes? Go to swinging parties? Be able to date other people?
Whatever it is you want, it is important to discuss this with your partner.
This may change, and that’s okay as long as you’re upfront and honest about it.
Richards said: “You have to set rules and boundaries with your partner that you are both comfortable with.
“Communication is vital to come up with a renegotiation of this relationship that works for both parties.”
If you and your partner are becoming involved in other sexual activity, you are naturally opening yourself up to more risk of contracting STIs or pregnancy.
Naturally, you should both consider taking precautions to protect yourselves.
Richards said that if you are having sex with other people, you should make sure everyone is protecting themselves and that you and your partner should go to your local clinic every 3 months to get tested.
Reassure your partner
When you bring up the subject with your partner, they could become insecure that you’re going to leave them, or that you don’t love them.
It is important that you don’t pressure them into doing something they’re not comfortable with.
You should respect them and give them the time and space to think about it.
If you explain why you’re interested in opening the relationship, they might relate and possibly agree. Just tell them what you’re feeling.
We spoke to Mike (not his real name), who has been in a gay monogamous relationship for several years and has recently brought up the subject of polyamory with his partner.
He said: “I wanted to open up the relationship, and while my partner had been curious about it and even suggested it in the past, this time he wasn’t feeling secure or loved enough, and said it felt like an ultimatum.”
Richards suggests that you should reassure your partner that you love them, and explain that the more freedom they give you to live the life you want, the closer you will be.
He added: “Once your partner gets that security, his anxiety and fears about losing his partner will lessen and before you know it he will be involved with other people as well.”