Rules of an Open Relationship are Meant to Be Broken

Can we skip the intro? This title speaks for itself. Open relationships and polygamy are probably the most debated topics in love. Because love is such a passionate and powerful emotion, everyone is stern in their opinion about them. Honestly, I never had an opinion about an open relationship besides, “nah, not for me.” My co-worker Sarah entered an open relationship and I quickly learned why those relationships are not for everyone. Open relationships have a sense of freedom, that attract many vibrant individuals. But, in reality, these relationships need more discipline than most. You must follow the rules of the relationship to make it work. Unfortunately for Sarah, her open relationship rules were only meant to be broken. 

Sarah and I were both fresh out of college and newbies in the wonderful world of adulting. It wasn’t the happily ever after- I’m rich now- situation we had hoped for. However, we sat in our double-seater cubicle, forty hours a week, and did our work with only complaints to each other.  Happy hours became our fuel to survive. We headed to a local bar for drinks after work at least three times a week. This is where Sarah met Brad. Shortly after they had a few dates, Brad proposed the idea of an open relationship with Sarah. Sarah was head over heels for this guy and agreed- even though this was never in her plans. As her co-worker, I was unknowingly in for the ride too. I became her ear for venting about these rules of an open relationship every morning. 

Rule #1: Honesty

I agreed when she told me this rule. Honesty is fair. In any relationship you both parties need to properly communicate in a truthful manner. But, I had to ask Sarah to be honest with me. I asked if she was truly comfortable with an open relationship. She replied yes without any hesitation. I then backed off with my judgment. If she’s happy, I’m happy. 

Rule #2: Be Open About Your Relationship and its Terms

It was Super Bowl Sunday, and Sarah was throwing Brad a watch party. Sarah invited me over to help her set up. Brad invited several of his best friends over both male and female. We were all having a great time. But, at half-time Brad made an announcement that he was stopping by Ashley’s house for a little while and he’d be back before half-time was over. I think we all were a bit confused however only Brad’s female best friend had the guts to say something. In front of everyone she scolded him for being rude and leaving his party and girlfriend to hang out with another female. Brad replied that it was fine with Sarah. He said she knew about his relations with Ashley and doesn’t mind because they’re in an open relationship. I was obviously the only person aware of the open relationship because there was an awkward silence from everyone…

Sarah stayed silent as well. Brad made his exit and we all poured ourselves another round of shots. Which brings me to rule number three.

Rule #3: Get Consent from Your Partner Before Seeing Another Person

Of course, I asked Sarah about this Ashley when we returned to work on Monday morning.  She refused to speak about it. Actually, she straight up ignored every word I said. While we were sitting less than twenty feet from one another. I’ve never seen Sarah so sad and angry. During lunch, she finally broke her silence. Basically, she was embarrassed. She knew Brad was seeing Ashley, but she wasn’t expecting it to ever interfere with her time with him. She was also uneasy about the reaction Brad’s friends had when he announced they were in an open relationship. This made her hesitant about telling her friends and family. My advice to my friend and co-worker that day was, “f*ck what people think!” Even Brad at this point, she needed to tell him seeing Ashley during his super bowl party was not okay. She agreed. But, then elaborated further on her real reason of rage about the Ashley situation. 

Rule #4: Keep Your Jealous Emotions in Control

Sarah admitted she was also jealous about his relations with Ashley because she didn’t have that connection with anyone too. She was in an open relationship, but only Brad was partaking in the additional dating. This jealousy brewing eventually made her seek men to date, just to get a reaction from Brad. Sarah began to request new happy hour locations for us to attend. This gave Sarah a new batch of men to get acquainted with and build up her roster. She was honest about her relationship status with them. Therefore, she technically wasn’t doing anything wrong … (I guess.) She was just casually turning her open relationship into a competition. 

Rule #5: Put a Limit to The Number of Extra Partners You Have

Sarah quickly racked up a bountiful dating team of men. The girl had options. I learned that Ashley was far from Brad’s only friend as well. Our morning recaps about our evenings after work were no longer about Brad. They were about the many other men Sarah was dating and the girls Brad was dating too. One day I had to interrupt her and ask if she had even seen her boyfriend Brad that week. She stated she had gone over his house for a few hours one day out the week, but he was getting ready to go on a date with another girl. So, she was unable to spend any intimate time with him. My mouth dropped to the floor, still, I kept my opinions to myself. I’m sure Sarah could read them all over my face, though. 

Brad still showed up to work functions as the boyfriend. However, as months went on I could tell their romance was not there anymore. Deep down Sarah yearned for only Brad’s attention. These other men were only kept around to fill the void. Sarah’s jealous plan was failing. She was running from the truth, and eventually, she hit her finish line. Without warning, Sarah ended her open relationship. That evening she told me about the breakup our happy hour lasted a little longer. She told me she realized she was guilty of breaking all the rules, not Brad. She admitted she wasn’t honest about how she felt, she still wasn’t open to her friends and family about her open relationship and could not control her jealousy. They both were guilty of exceeded their limit on partners. 

I was beyond proud of my friend for walking away on her own and without any drama. That open relationship and its rules were becoming exhausting- even for me to hear about. I’m glad she broke every last one of them. 

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T. Rogers

T. Rogers is a reader by day and writer by night. With over 7 years of content writing, she continues to prevail in her world of sour patch kids, expensive shoes and awkward moments that spark her courage to tell the greatest stories never told.