Open relationships are real and google searches for open relationships are on a steady rise with thousands of searches with an increased interest from Nigerians and Africans. A 2016 study found that approximately one in five people has participated in some kind of (consensual) non-monogamy.
In the short while I have lived in Dubai I have seen different types of open relationships.
Emeka is in an open relationship with Yemisi, his Nigerian girlfriend. He moved to Dubai 4 months ago to find opportunities in engineering, a big sector with lots of opportunities driven by new real estate developments, the Dubai 2020 expo and other developmental projects. He had a conversation with his girlfriend Ada before leaving Nigeria and they both agreed that they wanted to avoid a relationship of lies and dishonesty so their relationship would evolve to an open relationship for all the times they are apart. They agreed that communication, trust and respect were the things that truly mattered and not body parts. They share stories and laugh about them.
Adefemi is in a one sided open relationship. He is engaged to Chinelo in Nigeria but an exciting opportunity came up for him to relocate to Dubai for work 6 months ago. Chinelo has a great job with a clear growth path and cannot afford to make the move with him so they both agree to have a long distance relationship till they get married in 2 years after which they will re-calibrate and decide on their options. 2 months in, Adefemi meets Shalewa at Kiza Dubai. They hit it off and she starts to stay in his house 3 times a week. He tells her that he has a girlfriend in Nigeria and she tells him she is married in Kenya where she is originally based. They agree that their relationship is simply borne out of the necessity for companionship and shared bills so as long as their partners are none the wiser, everything will be great. Chinelo visits after 2 months and Shalewa moves out for the period. Mustapha, Shalewa’s husband visits 4 months later and Adefemi moves out for the period. Everything goes great till Shalewa has to move back to Kenya one year later and they have a mini send forth and she returns.
Mohammed is a one sided open marriage with two women or so he thought. He is an electrical engineer married to two wives in Abuja. He gets an opportunity to relocate to Dubai for work and jumps on it. Mohammed gets on Tinder and Badoo and has a girl in his room in Dubai almost every night. He has daily conversations with his family and complains to his wives about how lonely the nights get. Sometimes there is a woman sitting right across from him while he is having the conversation and he has to make eyes at her to be quiet and stop her chuckling. His first wife Irene from Kenya has a patron in the Nigerian House of Assembly who she met 1 month after Mohammed traveled. She delayed for about 2 months but finally gave in his request for a physical relationship . His other wife Adebimpe kept her long term lover from University after getting married so she never felt the impact of his move
Which of these relationship scenarios sounds like yours? Are you in a clear open relationship? Are you not sure if he/she is lying to you? Are you of the school of thought that as long as its not happening around me then I don’t need to be worried about it?
These are different relationship scenarios that are at play among different nationalities in Dubai. People are searching for companionship, mutual interests, shared bills, physical gratification, adventure, fetish fulfilments and other things that are available in an International city like Dubai. With all this, open relationships are becoming very popular especially among people that have a realistic view of the world.
In Nigeria, a lot of men and women are content with having extra marital or physical relationships outside their marriages or relationships. The men have been championing this in the past, keeping multiple women, sometimes making sure their wives/girlfriends never find out, other times not caring about how they would feel about it. The women have joined in or have they always been part of this? Women have friends with benefits, boy toys and other definitions of a man that’s mainly for physical gratification.
Common types of relationships
- Monogamous Relationships.
- Polyamorous Relationships.
- Open Relationships.
- Long-Distance Relationships.
- Casual Sex Relationships.
- ‘Friends With Benefits’ Relationships.
- Asexual Relationships.
Before we define what an Open relationship is and some of the ways it can work for you, let’s look at some of our favourite celebrities in Open relationships.
Angelina Jolie has been very clear about her stand on open relationships and in a statement about her relationship with Brad Pitt, she said; “I doubt that fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship. Neither Brad nor I have ever claimed that living together means to be chained together. We make sure that we never restrict each other.”
Long term couple Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith have also talked about open relationships. Jada said: “Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should ‘behave’?”
Actor Ethan Hawke is a fan of open relationships. In an interview, Hawke called sexual fidelity “childish,” and he doesn’t believe humans were made to be monogamous. He is also quoted as saying, “Sexual fidelity can’t be the whole thing you hang your relationship on. If you really love somebody you want them to grow, but you don’t get to define how that happens.”
Other celebrities like Davido and Chioma; Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, Beyonce and Jay Z have been rumoured to enjoy some kind of openness in their relationships allowing them to have long term healthy relationships.
…..Is an Open Relationship the answer? What are Open relationship rules?
The reality is that monogamy isn’t for everyone and an open relationship with rules might be the solution. Society tells you that you have to be with one person at a time, and then you fall into a cycle of trying to make things work but eventually losing to “temptation”, physical needs that arise out of distance and then hurting your partner. For people in Dubai, sometimes it’s the temptation of being in a city that is a true melting pot of different nationalities and flavours.
There are different kinds of open relationships and its important you know which one you are entering into.
What is an Open relationship?
An open relationship is a form of non-monogamy, it describes a physical or romantic partnership that is not predicated on absolute exclusivity. I use the word “absolute” because couple that have been in successful open relationships talk about the non exclusivity only extending to the physical side and not the emotional side of the relationship.
Another definition which I like is that an open relationship is when two people in a monogamous relationship make the consensual decision to explore non-monogamy. This can mean a variety of things, including introducing new sex partners together or separately, or developing outside romantic relationships.
It is ultimately up to the couple to determine the open relationship rules, boundaries and level of involvement with other partners that they are comfortable about.
We will look at some common rules you can have in your open relationship to make it successful before the end of the post.
Open relationships help serial cheaters have some sort of rein in. A lot of non-monogamous couples joke that they spend more time talking about it than they do getting any. The associated freedom is what actually helps and strengthens their relationship.
5 Popular Open Relationship Rules
These are some examples of rules that couples in Open relationships have used/can use to great success. The important thing with communicating is that the rules can evolve based on the unique situation.
Do not spend too much time with secondary partners. Making future plans with them, talking at length with them even when you are with your partner, etc. Your partner is your primary relationship and its important to always have this in mind. Even if your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband becomes friends with your secondary partner, you will eventually need to cut it off to ensure it doesn’t become uncomfortable and expectations start to come from the secondary party.
Honesty. This is an important ingredient that can ensure your open relationship succeeds. Honesty is what will help when and if you eventually decide to have an absolutely exclusive relationship.
Respect and Consent. This is very important. Do not over indulge to the extent of becoming disrespectful to your primary partner. Tell them when you will be seeing someone else and even when it happens unexpectedly, tell them about it immediately.
Also get the consent of the other person getting involved. This will make you lose some possible mates but in the long run will ensure things dont get complicated.
Try to avoid dating friends or anyone you are both uncomfortable with. Sometimes the rule might be no sleeping with Facebook friends, shared work.leisure colleagues, etc. It might be a difficult rule but its a small sacrifice to pay for long term happiness. Its easy for this set of people to trigger jealousy in your partner.
Use Protection. This is a very important rule. Stay safe and dont let your partner regret the open relationship.
These are 5 common rules for open relationships, you can create your own special rules based on your unique situation.
Two questions that could come up for people thinking about going into open relationships are;
How do you deal with jealousy in an open relationship.
Jealousy can not be totally eliminated but open relationships ensure that you can talk about some of the factors that lead to jealousy and even avoid some of them altogether. Think about a monogamous relationship you have been in and how many times you were jealous. Your extremely attractive girlfriend always told you how you were the only one for her but all the comments on her Facebook/Instagram posts always made you jealous. Her overly friendly nature also made you feel jealous. Your relationship because of its exclusive nature probably didn’t support flirting or conversations about the looks or physical figure of any other person. An open relationship and some of the freedom it brings takes away a lot of the burden of some of these things. You are communicating better, know your significant other is attracted to other people and will probably be with some of them. So the burden of jealousy is lifted.
Most important thing is that you are friends and act as such. Sometimes you might see the picture of a girl, and send her handle to your boyfriend saying “She looks like she could be interesting for you” and vice versa. When you are in different cities like some of our examples earlier, you don’t have to guess whether he is faithful, he already communicated to you about interesting people and what he is thinking about doing.
Look out for some of the random “Do you love me” or “Am I good enough for you” questions. They come with the open territory of easy communication. Sometimes you laugh about them and tell him/her to be focus, other times you talk about your adoration clearly.
Some people even find it sexy that their partners are desired by other people.
What if you fall in love with someone else while in an open relationship.
On falling in love, there is no room for that and the rules above help to ensure that. It is also important to ensure you have built a loving, happy, fun and trusting relationship that is virtually unbreakable. If things start to get intense with anyone else, you both have to agree to end it. Physical relationships are often adrenaline-driven and sneaking around with someone else can lead to a bonding that is mistaken for love. So eliminating the need to sneak around helps. You will find that people in one side open relationships or exclusive relationships where they end up cheating are more likely to fall in love with other people than people in open relationships.
So to answer our headline questions, Do Open Relationships Work? The answer is Yes, and the key to successful open relationships is to prioritize communication, honesty, openness, collaboration, and respect above everything else and to also establish boundaries.
Ifeanyi Abraham is a creative storyteller, life hacker and Digital Influencer.
He is a Public relations & Digital Marketing executive that helps companies, government agencies & NGOs leverage the power of marketing & communications.
He is the Founder of NigeriansinDubai.com, a knowledge sharing and transfer platform focused on harnessing the lessons, spirit and power of Dubai to the benefit of Nigerians. We tell the stories of Nigerians living, working and visiting Dubai.
He is also the Co-founder of The Beverage Room, a digital community for Beverage Lovers.