Open relationships are the newest twenties’ sexual behavior, allowing college students to concentrate on school instead of the demands a serious relationship may bring. Not only do college students’ change their values, their hair styles and their majors, but they also change partners, enjoying experiences with all different kinds of people who bring their own unique qualities to the table.
Like going to Cici’s Pizza, open relationships allow a couple the freedom to sample all different pieces of pie. However, are open relationships the new reality or the newest torture device? Perhaps you like the macaroni and cheese pizza, but you find your eye wandering to the buffalo chicken. You take a piece of the buffalo chicken. But what about macaroni and cheese? Do you not like the macaroni and cheese pizza anymore? I suppose you could just take the macaroni and cheese pizza, ignoring your desire for the buffalo chicken. Or you could eat macaroni and cheese pizza all your life and hate it, wondering what could have been.
Granted, people are not pizza, but you get the idea. Open relationships raise deep-seated emotions surrounding love and intimacy, and more importantly they ask the burning question: Would you rather someone be faithful to you but in love with someone else or in love with you but having sex with other people?
Patsy Richmond, a senior, felt torn.
“This is hard because I hope that the person I am with loves me and that would keep them faithful, but I would rather have the person love me and sleep with others,” Richmond said.
Heather Comitz, a junior, agreed.
“If I didn’t want a partner who wasn’t in love with me, there’d be no point in a relationship. I’d rather them just have sex with another person and get over it, instead of wanting to and never getting over that,” Comitz said.
Sex is just a couple of bodies rubbing against each other. Virtually anyone can have sex with everyone – you don’t have to enjoy it.
Love, on the other hand, is something special. Love is laughing and playing together. Love is holding a paper towel on your girlfriend’s bloody nose. Love is staying up all night with your boyfriend after his father passed away. Love is eating out at your significant other’s favorite Indian restaurant when you have irritable bowel syndrome, while lust is just eating out.
“I feel like open relationships are meant for people who need more intellectual stimulation,” Comitz said. In fact, according to Psychology Today, love and sex affects different but related parts of the striatum in the brain.
Sometimes open relationships can save a perfectly loving marriage. What turns you on when you are 20 may not when you’re a parent with two kids. Women reach their sexual peak when they are in their thirties, as opposed to men in their late teens. Although she may love her husband, a woman may have different sexual needs that her husband cannot provide for her and vice-versa. This leads me to believe that maybe the rising divorce rate is not because people fell out of love; it’s because people were not able to honestly express and explore who they are.
All good relationships require honesty; however, open relationships require honesty’s blunt cousin, “too much information.” You cannot simply enter one without a discussion of rules. ”Having your relationship open to sex with other people isn’t the same as an invitation,” Comitz said, “It’s just open to it if you think the person is hot and wind up (having sex).”
Still, even with rules, watching someone you have sex with having sex with other people isn’t a walk in the park.
Open relationships are not for everyone. Like a fifth grade girl scout camp trip, they have a 45 percent potential to be amazing and a 55 percent chance to be emotionally devastating, with one of you coming home crying and covered in strange, itchy hives.
“Most people think that my open relationship is stupid, but they’re the ones lying in bed dreaming about some hot chick they could have had sex with. The funny side about open relationships is that your partner would just come back from someone else unsatisfied,” Comitz said.
“And if feelings were to evolve, just like any other socially deemed normal relationship, the relationship would have to come to an end,” she said.
Does entering an open relationship mean that your relationship is officially over? In some cases, according to Psychology Today, yes. Sexual attraction activates the striatum in the brain. The area that is activated by love is actually a reward system similar to the process of becoming addicted to drugs. As orgasms release oxytocin – a snuggly bonding hormone – you are conditioning your brain, and possibly falling in love.
Does entering an open relationship, knowing the risks, make your love for each other stronger? Student opinions are mixed.
“It’s easy to get jealous when you know the person you care about is with other people. I also don’t think open relationships are lasting ones. If you love someone, you won’t want to be with anyone else,” Richmond said.
Comitz, on the other hand, feels differently.
“They can be stronger than monogamous ones because you don’t have to hold back. Everything’s so open you don’t have to feel trapped. I think deciding to be in an open relationship is one of the smartest, hottest things a woman can do. Plus, I’m just too good for the world not to experience me.”
Whether or not you decide to be committed or open, to have buffalo chicken or macaroni and cheese, make sure you’re honest with your partner, and more importantly, honest with yourself. Your experience is the one which matters most.