When Does an Open Relationship Become Cheating?

Open relationships? What are they, do they work, what are the proper steps to navigate a healthy open relationship? These are the many questions we wish we had the answers to.

For clarification purposes, we are going to start by explaining what an open relationship is, incase you are in one, and are unaware or you’d like to explore this option with a partner. An open relationship is when you and your partner, are emotionally connected and physically but both of you agree that other sexual intimacy needs can be met from other people. Some may use the popular proverb “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” in regard to open relationships due to the common societal narrative of enforcing monogamy and that everyone has the “one.” But we must remember everyone is different. Just because I, for example, have only been in monogamous relationships and feel fulfilled when I am solely with one individual, that might not be the same for someone else.

Now that we have explained what an open relationship is. The question we are discussing is when does an open relationship turn into cheating? Like I previously stated, everyone is different and that coincides with relationships. Whether the relationship is monogamous or non-monogamous, expectations and boundaries need to be set. Expectations and boundaries are needed for both parties in the relationship to know what is acceptable therefore there is no room to assume what the other person would be comfortable with. Assuming happens often in relationships because we aren’t as transparent with our feelings or don’t communicate exactly what is expected from our partner. I am going to be honest; it is difficult sometimes to be fully transparent and raw. Being emotional can be uncomfortable because you are at your most vulnerable state and there is a possibility your partner might not see where you are coming from. But the most difficult conversations tend to be the ones worth having.

"...the most difficult conversations tend to be the ones worth having."

Open relationships and cheating.

These two words might not seem like they belong together, seeing that an open relationship is polyamorous. But when someone breaks or disrespects the expectations and boundaries they have contracted with their partner, then the person can be cheating. If you were to ask what cheating means to several people, you will most likely get different responses. That is why this is all circumstantial, depending on your relationship, certain activities that a partner might commit while in an open relationship can be deemed as cheating. Regardless of how many people are involved in your partnership, honesty is a value that the participants should always uphold. An open relationship turns into cheating when both parties are not being honest with one another. Due to this type of relationship relying on communication and trust, when someone starts lying about trivial or fundamental aspects of the relationships, that is a red flag and the lying can be to disguise cheating.

"...you are half of the relationship and that is all you can control, half."

Relationships require hard work, but you must remember it is a partnership, you are half of the relationship and that is all you can control, half. So if the bare minimum, honesty, isn't being met between both individuals, that is when an open relationship will easily turn into a cheating frenzy.

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