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How to Start a Conversation About an Open Relationship

by Danielle Wright

The other day, I began the study of Human Anthropology, which is the study of what makes us human. In that, I learned of some interesting correlations between humans and the animal kingdom. At the end of the day, we’re all mammals.

Image Credit: Peter Cade / Getty Images

Take a lion and his pride, for instance. A lioness will mate with a strong lion, have his cubs, raise them, teach them to hunt, and the only thing he has to do is have sex with the female lions to procreate and then protect the lionesses and cubs in the pride. Lions don’t even hunt for food; the lioness does.

All in all, lions are in open relationships with female lions with whom they spread their seed and protect. So, when we think of humans and how we interact with one another or how we perceive relationships in Western civilization, is it really us going against the grain? The natural order of things.

Re-watching shows like "The Tudors," where King Henry VIII frequently had relations with women outside of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, yet, due to him insisting that she had consummated her marriage to his brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales during their marriage prior to his death, Henry annulled their marriage on May 23, 1533.

Related articles: He Cheated...

I say that to say, it’s natural for men to step out on their wives, but they cannot and will not stand for it to be done to them; even if they have the slightest inkling, they will leave. So, what is human nature? What are open relationships?

An open relationship is an agreement between both parties that each may have sexual relations with others. For men, this is a dream come true; for women… not so much. Women have a completely different anatomy from men, and men know this. Women who step out on their partners and have relations with other men will become emotionally attached to the new man, leaving her current partner.

Whereas men can have relations with a multitude of women and not bear an emotional connection to them, making it less likely for him to leave his current partner/wife. If the animal kingdom has taught us anything, it’s that men were never developed for monogamy. In many countries, men are allowed to have several wives just as long as each wife is financially taken care of equally.

In Western culture, it’s harder for most men to build wealth, which means only a few will ever have access to a plethora of women. This is why it’s normal to see celebrities who have resorted to having open relationships due to:

  • Scheduling Conflicts

  • Bisexuality

  • Financial Stability

Some celebrity couples include:

  • Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith (We should all know this by now, courtesy of Jada herself lol)

  • Dolly Parton & Carl Dean

  • Mo’Nique & Sidney Hicks

  • Tilda Swinton & John Byrne

  • Tom Ford & Richard Buckley

As you can see, it’s not an abnormal venture, but typically, if you want to exercise this option with your partner—if they are not the polygamous type—then you should present a very strong argument. One of which can be using singers Shamari and Ronnie DeVoe as examples.

During her time as a Housewife on the hit Bravo series, Real Housewives of Atlanta, Shamari divulged that both she and her husband were in an open marriage for a few years. She admitted to stepping out and dating/sleeping with other women, while he did the same. However, the experience only brought them closer together, making the mutual decision to stop and remain in a monogamous, healthy marriage.

Image Credit: Paras Griffin / Contributor / Getty Images


The best way to gauge the reaction to a subject matter involving anyone or anything is by watching a film where the thing you’re interested in discussing is on display. Let me explain…when you want to introduce a topic to your significant other, you should find a film about it and suggest that you both sit and watch it together.

While the film is playing, you can subtly ask your partner their thoughts on the behavior the characters are exhibiting. For example: a movie about a couple in an open relationship, “Wow babe, that’s crazy. Would you even be open to something like that?” or “Open relationships are not for me (reverse psychology), not even sure how I’d maneuver in that. What about you, have you ever thought about that?”


An aspiring novelist enters into a relationship with a woman, though there’s just one catch: she’s married, and the couple can only meet between the hours of 5 and 7 each evening.

Two friends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.

A young American studying in Paris in 1968 strikes up a friendship with a French brother and sister. Set against the background of the '68 Paris student riots.

Oilman Jan is paralyzed in an accident. His wife, who prayed for his return, feels guilty; even more so when Jan urges her to have sex with another.

Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman.

There you have it, some films to help you get the conversation started. Just remember, you should always be honest with yourself and your partner. Cheating is not the answer, being sneaky or lying is not the answer, either. Your partner will be devastated. If they do not share in your idea for opening the relationship, respect their decision and their boundaries. Consider ending the relationship if you have to, but always be sure to be considerate of the other person’s feelings.


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