10 Signs He's Not Really in an Open Relationship
A lot of people who claim to be "open," aren't really in an open relationship—and the drama that ensues is proof. So, how can you tell?
Blane was the type of guy that all the girls at school happened to have a crush on. He was a tall, handsome guy with muscles and a football scholarship. The strapping senior was in a fraternity, remained very popular, and even had teachers who enjoyed seeing him around.
And then, there was me. I was only 19 at the time, was known for being pretty shy, and to a point, also had a reputation for sleeping around a bit. Due to my lack of social interaction, I was also known for being very naïve.
Blane knew this, and took advantage of it. When he started talking to me, I realized he couldn't possibly be single and interested in me. So, I assumed he wanted to be friends—until he kissed me.
I pulled away and asked him what was going on. I was this weird, quirky lefty nerd. He was Mr. Pep-pep, Rah-rah football guy. This didn't make sense; his friends didn't even like me.
"I know that you're into the free love thing. So am I. I'm actually in an open relationship," he said. So we started hitting it off.
In an open relationship, all partners know that there's a certain element of non-exclusivity. Agreements are made, everyone is on the same page, and flings are consensual. There are many reasons why an open relationship may work for you. There's no sneaking around or hurt feelings, and therefore, it's ethical.
So, when I found out, I went for it. I mean, how many times would a nerd like me get to hit it with a football star? We started dating and having wild flings.
Everything went well until his girlfriend found out.
She found out by seeing the two of us in my car, kissing pretty passionately. She knocked on the door and began to cry. I turned to him and asked what was going on.
He then claimed that I was crazy, and that I "didn't mean anything" to her. He chased after her, leaving me in the dust. It became clear that he wasn't really in an open relationship; he was just using me for sex.
I phoned him later that night, no answer. Eventually, I asked him if he cared at all about me. Blane casually explained that he cared more about his toenail clippings than me, then not-so-politely told me to fuck off. I was pretty hurt.
Since then, I've learned that the vast majority of people who claim to be in an open relationship really aren't. In fact, it's a major red flag for most people—even poly people. So, how can you tell if someone's legitimately in an open relationship?
Speaking as someone who's been in one, here are some of the telltale clues that the person in question really isn't being open about their dating life with you...
He doesn't want you to meet his significant other.
The most impressively glaring red flag for a person who is in an "open relationship" is when they don't want you to meet their significant other—or worse, keep you in the dark about who they even are.
You can't be in an open relationship without being open about your significant other with potential partners. The vast majority of people who are in open relationships or polyamorous will insist on having you meet their significant others to talk things out.
If they seem to be hiding them from you, then they aren't actually dating someone in the "open" sense of the word, they're cheating and hoping you'll be dumb enough to believe them.
Their partner seems unaware of you.
Though "don't ask, don't tell" open relationships do exist, that's not a very likely scenario. In fact, it's not even that popular a relationship model—unless the couple in question is choosing to do this as a last-ditch effort to avoid divorce.
This is just a very risky kind of policy to take, simply because of how high the risk of the partner not really being in an open relationship is. Do you trust them to tell you the truth?
His attraction to you and decision to date you doesn't seem to make sense.
This clue was what made me get suspicious of Blane. Deep down inside, I knew something didn't make sense about the arrangement we had—and it made everything feel kind of "off."
Take a good look at the person who's propositioning you. Do you two look like polar opposites? Would you really fit in with his friends, or his lifestyle? Or, rather, does it seem like you would end up being a "guilty secret" of his?
In most open relationships, the poly individual will often befriend thirds and introduce them to their significant others. They may also make it clear that you are just a sexual fling who also happens to be a friend.
Very rarely will you see an open relationship that has a person tucked away like a dirty little secret. Besides, do you really want to sleep with someone who treats you that way?
You've already caught him in other lies.
One of the signs he's a cheater is that he lies. That's what they do. If they're lying about their "open relationship" or being polyamorous, you can bet that they will also lie about other issues so that they can avoid getting their cover blown.
Take a look at whether he lies about other things. Did he lie about where he lived? Where he worked? His name? If so, he's probably taking you for a fool.
His partner seems very jealous or uncomfortable around you.
I want to point something out about open relationships that needs to be said: they aren't really open if one partner is not happy with it. If one partner is clearly not happy with the other partner's sexual exploits, then they are not in an open relationship.
In most cases, a relationship that involves one "happy poly" person and one monogamous person isn't healthy. In fact, it often means that one partner may have had their hand forced into accepting philandering.
You do not want to get involved with that kind of "open relationship." It only leads to drama.
Something doesn't feel right.
Most people have had that strange, unsettling feeling in the pits of their stomachs about something not being right. It may have been a job offer that was too good to be true, or it may have been a person who just didn't act like they have your best interest in mind.
Believe it or not, your gut instincts are right more often than they are wrong. Trust your gut. If you don't get the vibe that your date's being honest, then he's probably not.
He's not typically the type to be in an open relationship.
Whether it's politically correct or not, I'm going to point out that there are definitely some people who are more the polyamorous type than others.
People who tend to be artists, spiritualists, and non-conformists tend to be the ones who are more drawn to open relationships than most. If you're Mormon or from a similarly polygamous religion, you might have an inclination towards it too.
A person who markets themselves as a "family man," a traditionalist, or a person who makes a point of seeming like a very mainstream person will not want to be in an open relationship. It just won't be his thing.
So, if you hear a guy who's very conservative saying that he's in an open relationship, you should take that with a grain of salt.
He doesn't use any typical term used in open relationships.
The more people you have in a relationship, the more complex and difficult the relationship is. That's why most people who are swingers, polyamorous, or in open relationships need a support network.
People who are in open relationships tend to be part of communities that help them navigate the inner workings of them. This leads to a lot of terms used for practices that are almost entirely exclusive to multi-partner relationships.
Take a look at the terms he uses when he's talking about relationships. Does he mention "triads," "love contracts," "fluid bonding," or "primary?" If not, he may not be in an open relationship—or at the very least, he's new to it.
Open relationships are very risky compared to regular relationships, and that's because of the fact that more people means more risk of harm. The risks are both physical and emotional—and are far more complex than what monogamous couples deal with.
Emotionally, there's a huge chance of heartbreak because more people means more volatility. There's more risk that you may get dumped because of a more compatible partner, more risk of hurt from jealousy, as well as more risk of just not feeling attractive enough.
Physically, the chance of an STD skyrockets when you have multiple partners. There's also the chance of a pregnancy happening with the wrong partner, if you're heterosexual.
The only ways to protect yourself and your partners is to talk about emotional boundaries, maintain those boundaries, and practice safe sex. It's one of the basic rules to follow in a polyamorous relationship. Anyone who's in an open relationship knows this and will do what they can to keep things safe for all people involved.
A person who doesn't discuss or uphold boundaries is a person who isn't in an open relationship. Rather, they're cheating and just lying about their relationship status to cover it. They're lying because they assume you'll be loyal while they putz around.
If they were really in an open relationship, they'd talk things out because the fallout would harm everyone involved—including their main partners and themselves.
His friends talk smack about you.
A lot of Blane's friends did this with me, and Blane would also occasionally do it in front of me too. I had a low self-esteem, and just wanted to spend time with someone who cared.
Looking back, I should have realized that people who are in open relationships have a little more respect for their partners and flings. But, hey, you live and you learn. Such is life as a naive, lonely kid.
He backpedals about relationship-related stuff on a regular basis.
You hear him mention his girlfriend, then you hear him ask about being friends with benefits. You tell him he's taken, he claims he's in an open relationship but that his girlfriend is jealous. He then claims he's not really into her, but that he's gotta be with her.
A lot of cheaters will try to gaslight you and make you feel unreasonable by contradicting themselves when it comes to romance-related things. Don't be fooled; he's lying and trying to play you for a pawn.
There's no indicator that his partner is also on the prowl.
Finally, one of the more telling signs that he's not in an open relationship is how his partner behaves. Does his partner seem totally dedicated to him? Is she calling him her "one and only?" Is she conspicuously absent from dating sites?
If his partner acts fiercely loyal to him, then he's almost certainly taking advantage of you—and the poor fool who actually is his main squeeze.