Open Relationships: Feminist or Not?

Putting ourselves first in life and love can lead to a happier, healthier existence. Namely, because it allows us to be ourselves. But when this translates to a romance without borders—call it polyamory or an open relationship—does the same satisfaction ring true? We weigh the pros and cons of an open relationship from a feminist perspective.


Some women feel that to settle is to sacrifice. One woman I talked to said, “Open relationships are empowering.” She’s been in one for three years and counting. She describes a sense of liberation, and though she and her partner rarely venture outside of their primary relationship, she says being able to openly discuss and partake in experiences with others promotes a higher level of honesty, a deeper understanding of one another, and brings them closer as a couple.

Researcher estimates indicate that 30 to 60 percent of married people are guilty of cheating on their spouse.  With statistics like that, it makes one wonder if it’s even biologically possible to be completely fulfilled—sexually, physically, and mentally—by one person for a lifetime. Not everyone takes their coffee the same way, why should we accept that everyone wants the same things when it comes to relationships? Understanding that choice is the power.

Open relationships are no different than casual dating. In fact, one woman in a traditional relationship described her opinion of open relationships as “renting versus owning” in the sense that people in them seem to be with one another out of convenience and are not willing to put down roots just in case something better comes along.

When some venture outside of a relationship, it’s often on a quest for something they’re not getting. A little bit of self-reflection may be what’s in order, not a string of one night stands. It’s important that couples look at what each partner is, or is not, bringing to the table by way of mental and physical stimulation and try to understand why each is not being satisfied. If it’s fixable, fix it together. If it’s not, everyone is better off by moving on.

– Kristin Tschannen


  1. A.K. Whitney says:

    If both parties are completely on board with an open relationship, are able to set rules both can follow, and they can deal with any jealousy, etc., I say go for it. But that statistic sounds far too high. Who supplied it? Ashley Madison?


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