Here’s an alternative to the open relationship model that I created that you might find more appealing. It’s called a free relationship, and it differs from an open relationship in several key ways.
In an open relationship, there is an agreement that allows both partners to have multiple emotional and sexual relationships outside or inside their relationship. In a free relationship, there is an agreement that allows both partners to have complete freedom in how they spend their free time including holidays and vacations. Additional emotional or sexual relationships are not a part of the agreement in a free relationship.
A free relationship rewrites the rules of social conventions just like an open relationship does. But because the open sexual component is not included there may be more acceptance and broader practice. It is certainly safer in a few crucial areas.
The likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is almost zero. And the possibility of this arrangement leading to divorce goes down significantly in comparison. It’s the STDs (aka STIs, sexually transmitted infections) that would be the most worrisome to me in an open relationship. And the idea of another man having sex with the woman I love is unacceptable to me.
I predict that a free relationship would increase contentment, personal fulfillment, and romance. I also believe it would reduce tension, resentment, and divorce.
I would expect that the free relationship model would be easiest to carry out in a childless, committed relationship or marriage. The extent of implementation for parents would have to be modified based on the age of the children.
I would imagine that as children got older each parent would include one or more of their children in their independent activities periodically. There’s no reason this should reduce the freedom agreement, but rather it should enhance it.
This is not to say that there wouldn’t be couples’ and family activities because there would be. The difference is that every activity would not be predetermined as being exclusively a couples’ or a family event. The parents’ freedom to choose would prevail. Children could earn freedom “credits” for good behavior and achievements. Children could be given the option to return some of their “freedom credits” to avoid punishment for certain violations.
Here’s what a free relationship model looks like.
There are no obligations by either partner to attend any meetings, social activities, sporting events, celebrations, or holiday gatherings of any kind.
This one may be challenging for some women, but the benefits may be worth it. There are some social activities that men detest. That’s a fact. They may also strongly dislike a particular relative or friend of their partner. And the same may be true of the woman. Men do not feel any obligation to socialize with people they don’t like, but women often do. Here’s where the conflict occurs.
Men are put under extreme pressure to attend all social events and annual celebrations. When men are forced to go they become resentful, frustrated, and tense. They will try to hide this from their partner and themselves, but they do have these thoughts and feelings nevertheless. (Female Readers: Don’t bother asking your partner about this because he’ll probably just tell you what you want to hear.) Without pressure, men are free to carefully choose which activities they want to attend. Given this freedom, they’ll be a delight when they are there.
Each partner is allowed complete freedom to organize their weekend activities. If they want their partner to join them or go on a date, they must invite them. If invited, the partner may accept or decline without any explanation required or hurt feelings.
Weekends are holy ground. It’s the only time that many of us can call our own. During the workweek, we have no true freedom, unless you’re an internet entrepreneur. 🙂 Your job and boss dictate your schedule and activities. So when the weekend comes our thirst for freedom is intense. The free relationship model allows this thirst to be completely quenched!
If the entire weekend is predetermined by one partner or the other, this thirst never gets satisfied. You return to work on Monday feeling tired and unfulfilled. If this is done for months or years a person can begin to feel rundown and resentful. Then they may begin fantasizing about escaping to a tropical island.
Given the freedom to “choose” can change everything. It has to be true guiltless freedom though. No comments like, “Do what you want. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay at home alone!” are allowed.
Each partner is permitted full freedom to choose their recreational activities. They do this without being concerned whether their partner can or will participate. Again, there are no feelings of obligation.
This is not to say that you might discover a mutual passion for a particular activity. But there is no pressure to compromise or participate in an activity that you don’t enjoy just so that you can do it together. This sort of thing just breeds mediocrity and boredom.
Both partners are allowed to work on their own personal development independently and in the way they choose. Although they may talk about their self-improvement goals, there are no requirements to share any aspect of their plan.
The freedom to grow independently is a key advantage of the free relationship model. If each partner is able to pursue their personal development on their own it can not only produce greater growth but also greater excitement in the relationship. Here’s an example.
One partner begins an exercise program. After a few months, their weight loss and body toning are very apparent. They are looking good! They are looking sexy! They are more confident!
Their partner wants to look good too so they begin an exercise program of their own. Since they never felt any pressure to join their partner originally, there is no resentment or reluctance.
They both end up growing, feeling attractive, and being excited by their partner’s new confidence and physique.
Vacations and weekend getaways may be taken alone, with a (same-sex) friend, or together as a couple.
Going on a vacation alone can be very beneficial to the individual and the relationship. A soulful vacation, as I like to call them, creates a completely different experience if you go alone. Soulful vacations can also be taken together by the way.
The specifics of the free relationship agreement must be emphasized for this particular activity since you’ll be away overnight. Those criteria state that there will be no emotional or sexual relationships including one-night stands.
Both partners agree to collaborate on certain important aspects of their life. There is no obligation to be a participant in all projects perceived by one partner as requiring teamwork. Both partners must agree on the amount, if any, they will participate in a particular project. These projects might include meal planning, financial strategizing, home decorating, or garden landscaping.
Since a couple knows each other so well, and hopefully they have a lot in common, teamwork should be one of the strongest aspects of their relationship. The creation of a free relationship agreement is one project in which both partners should fully participate. Otherwise, the nonparticipating partner would be at a huge disadvantage since no negotiation would have taken place.
I suggest that you put the specifics of your free relationship agreement in writing. Then keep exchanging and revising it until you are both comfortable with it. Be sure to include an area at the bottom for signatures and dates.
Putting the agreement together should be an exciting adventure. It’s an intelligent way to design your future together in a way that you’re both extremely happy with.
Why is a formal agreement necessary? An agreement is created for clarification, collaboration on the terms, and unquestionable recall down the road. We all know that things can change in a relationship in short order. One day you’re lovers and best friends and the next you’re struggling to keep from hating each other. This can happen to any couple.
Since we are so advanced as a society, we can apply our knowledge and intelligence to designing a better relationship paradigm. Otherwise, we’ll just have the same old boring and worn-out traditions that have a horribly unsuccessful record.
Try something new and innovative. Try the free relationship model for 30-90 days. It will spice up your relationship. If you don’t like it you can always go back to the old way.