The Positive Mental Health Effects of Open Relationships

couple on couch laughing

Our bias noted: open relationships feel pretty mentally good.

The world is experiencing a shift in relationship perspectives as more couples look to leverage the power of an open relationship.

These are often couples marred by traditional relationship struggles. Those struggles can feel defeating to both partners. Hence, the open relationship becomes a solution to help improve mental health.

We’ll look at key ways that an open relationship could potentially help boost your mental health beyond just the relationship itself.

‘The Norm’ – But Is It Healthy?

Societal norms have shaped our idea of the relationship framework. And the framework involves two persons in a union of some sort.

But if you notice, there’s not much else contained in the framework.

For example, you don’t hear much about the significance of communication for an engaged couple. Nope, the focus primarily centers around the monogamous aspect; or, don’t cheat.

Open relationships have survived, and now thrived, as a solution for couples who haven’t experienced any benefits from ‘the norm.’

One reason open relationships are thriving is due to increased mental health benefits. That’s right, you might feel better including more people into your relationship. That’s quite the departure from ‘the norm’ where the majority of relationship focus and energy targets ‘not cheating.’

In an open relationship, there can still be cheating, but couples define what their boundaries are with including new or repeat people into their relationship. They customize their cheating standards rather than allowing society to do that for them.

So the relationship thereby centers around two people communicating their needs, wants, and desires. And this amounts to the very definition of relationship communication.

So what are the mental health benefits of an open relationship?

You Might Feel Less Jealousy

For couples entrenched in a traditional, socially ‘normal’ relationship, the idea that including more people into their bedroom could result in less jealousy probably seems rather absurd.

But in fact, it’s true, more may be better in the case of relationships.

Jealousy is a normal emotion experienced by most of us. To those who don’t experience jealousy, good on you all. But to the rest of us, it’s the way it is with not only our relationships, but our jobs, cars, eyeglasses, height, muscles, and so much more.

The point is, jealousy is a mainstay in any relationship, whether that’s with other people, or what other people have.

There’s a misconception that the journey to an open relationship is 1 + 1, to 1 + 1 + 1.

“Hey, meet Lisa, she’ll be joining us this evening.”

Instead, before anyone meets Lisa, you and your partner discuss your desires, values, wants, and boundaries.

Consider something rather profound for a moment: When was the last time you recall discussing your deep sexual desires with a monogamous partner? If the answer is never, you should now consider how little your partner knows about the things you want. Part of our overarching sexual desires are our lust for other people. That goes for you, and for your partner. So if no one is expressing that, it’s being concealed. And if it’s being concealed, you both know it’s being concealed, which leads to suspicion and paranoia. See how that works?

You’ll Experience Compersion

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of compersion.

Compersion is a term typically used within the context of non monogamy. It’s used to describe a feeling of joy or happiness that a person experiences when their partner finds happiness in another romantic or sexual relationship. The concept is often contrasted with jealousy.

The concept of compersion is a pilar in open relationships as it embodies a positive emotional reaction to a situation that societal norms might deem otherwise.

Compersion is the inverse of jealousy. And it’s a powerful experience. As open relationships continue to gain mainstream acceptance, the concept of compersion grows as a powerful describer of one of an open relationship’s most profound benefits.

Consider this concept in other scenarios.

Do you feel better when you are happy for a coworker’s promotion, or envious and jealous?

You probably realize that feeling good about someone’s accomplishment is a better energy.

When you embrace compersion, you vastly overhaul your mental health. Because compersion is the inverse of jealousy, which is a powerful, sometimes overwhelming emotional energy, the positive effects are widespread and potent.

You’ll Become a Better Communicator

Because communication is the centerpiece of an open relationship, you’ll become darn good at communicating. And many people aren’t good at communicating at all.

Communication can seem easy when it’s about light subjects. But for many people, communicating regarding tough subjects is difficult.

When you learn to navigate tough subjects such as learning your partner’s desires for other partners, and you communicate your own desires for other partners, you learn to tackle difficult subjects.

You know what else has difficult subjects?

Your job. The raise you desire. The coworker who harasses you.

Your mom. The way her constant criticism makes you feel.

The list could go on because life is ripe with difficult, tough subjects. When you learn to negotiate difficult conversations in an open relationship, your communication skills improve for all conversations. You learn the art of directness and how to remain balanced and even keel during conversations that may heighten emotions.

Conclusion

Whether its the value we find in compersion, or the jealousy we wrangle in, or our improved ability to convey tough ideas to emotional people, open relationships help us improve our lives not just within the relationship, but outside of it.

Are you ready to find an open relationship near you?