Growing together instead of merging.  

...when I say that I live in an open relationship, the first question is always:  

Is there no such thing as jealousy at all? 

Of course! Jealousy also exists in polyamorous unions and open relationships. So the question should be how to deal with it. In alternative relationship concepts, the discussion does not focus on the "what", but on the "how". It's not about having slept with someone else/being intimate with them, but about how it all happened. How did I communicate the whole thing? How did I protect my partner from unpleasant feelings and take away fears (of loss)? 

In my opinion, it is easy to say that people who opt for a non-monogamous relationship model simply have no problem with jealousy. Seen through monogamous glasses, this seems to be a logical explanation. But it is not. One is only willing to face one's fears and deal with them. After all, we all live in the same capitalistic social system, which is characterized by possessive thinking. The perfect breeding ground for jealousy and unpleasant feelings that make one believe that one would ultimately lose without "exclusive rights". 

In her TEDTalk "Rethinking infidelity... a talk for anyone who has ever loved", Esther Perel has listed other motifs that are especially important today as catalysts for cheating and the resulting insecurity for the deceived. Also Simone de Beauvoir, convinced feminist and lover Jean-Paul Sartres, is said to have spoken retrospectively of jealous episodes and agonizing moments in her polyamorous connection to the French philosopher.  

"As if it were not a human need to be unique and meaningful to a single person. And to protect this love through jealousy."  (Simone de Beauvoir)

So the answer is definitely: YES! But since jealousy is not a nice feeling and can be paralyzing, it is a conscious decision to deal with it. Feelings change: they drive you crazy; they calm down; they come back; they eventually disappear or turn into a barely noticeable pinch over time that only reminds you of your initial torments.  

So the question should be: Why did you decide to deal with jealousy and go the arduous way that requires much self-reflection? 

I think the personal sense of freedom is individually different and a crucial motive, if not the motive. After all, at the end of the fight there is also one's own (sexual) autonomy. But there are always two sides to a medal and if you want to fuck (a stranger), you also have to let your partner fuck (a stranger). Which brings us to the crux of the matter. Tricky. You don't want to appear self-righteous, but the thought that your partner could have some other wet and cheerful pleasure with someone makes you sick in your stomach. In such moments it always helps me to "mirror" the situation, because in the moment I realize how much these sporadic strange flings mean to me personally and to what extent they endanger the emotional bond to my partner (...not at all!) everything is not that bad.  

But what if he falls in love or the sex with her is better? 

Okay, first of all: even in a monogamous relationship, you are not protected against your partner feeling attracted to someone else at some point and - in the worst case - letting you down. For that we need trust. Trust is good - control is shitty. As long as a relationship is not based on trust, it is doomed to failure.  

"Jealousy is a passion that seeks with diligents what causes suffering."  (Franz Grillparzer)

Openness and communication are therefore indispensable.  However, it is not easy for everyone to talk openly and freely about their feelings/thoughts/fears. In non-monogamous relationships, the inhibition threshold may be somewhat lower, as these are things that could happen in reality and not just in the imagination. Also, you don't run the risk of being condemned for your sexual desire, because you have already agreed at the beginning (or in the course of the relationship) not to have to suppress it. In the best case, it is clear to both partners that this is only a matter of drive and (often) increasing one's self-esteem. Variety brings joy. No one likes routine. 

Of course it is important to show the partner again and again that he is still number 1 despite the temporary pleasure with third parties. Whether one mediates this now in the form of gestures/words or gifts is left to each couple. The main thing is that there is lots of recognition, which in turn can develop/grow a feeling of security. Grow. Another such term. A non-monogamous relationship is constantly changing. Of course, even a monogamous relationship does not stagnate, but my experience has shown me that an open relationship also brings with it a turbulent dynamic. The regular input from "outside" finally leaves its traces and provides little rest. Especially in the beginning. 

Do you just not want to commit yourself and wait until someone better comes or do you just not love him properly? 

Hmm. With this question I have some problems. Admittedly, at first it generates a little bit of anger, which finally dissolves  in a tired grin.  How do you really love? Is that written somewhere? Is there a universal law enacted by Eros himself? No. Everyone loves in his/her own way. When two people find each other who love in the same way, it is a wonderful gift. However, someone who starts by quoting the categories "right" and "wrong" in the context of love has never loved, let alone knows what love really is. Love is interchangeable, inexhaustible and omnipresent. One cannot press it into a grid, for then one would rob it of its abundance.  

So the answer to this question is: Oh yes. I love him so much that I don't want to hold him back or decide his needs. I want to show him that my love is unconditional and not tied to any "exclusive rights". Besides: Of course I don't want to commit myself. Who wants that? Then I would have to justify myself every time I act against my previously made decision. How exhausting. I want to live my relationship alive, just like my life. After all, it always comes different than you think. 

Besides, I find it naive to believe that a person has to "compensate" for all their partners needs alone. Isn't that quite a lot of pressure that you put on your partner right from the start? Isn't that a lot of expectations that can't be fulfilled/that don't have to be fulfilled? After all, in everyday life we constantly yearn for more freedom; self-realization... Then why not also in love? 

Do you need so much sex or is sex so important to you? Does it often happen that you meet others? 

Funnily enough, not so often. Sometimes the knowledge of being able to do what you want is enough and the stimulus has disappeared with that thought. After all, forbidden things are only interesting as long as they are forbidden. Look at toddlers. Or remember your childhood days where you tested your limits and just couldn't stop doing what was forbidden in the hope of not being caught. What a thrill. Just because something is allowed doesn't mean it happens all the time or is especially good. Another point: The fantasies you (sometimes) build up in a long-lasting monogamous relationship (sex with a stranger; one-night stands) usually remain horny fantasies. Because the reality looks different. Especially ONS don't deliver what they promise. At least from a female point of view, in this case my point of view. Sex with a stranger is not very well-rehearsed and is usually quickly over or clouded by alcohol and/or other substances. You can rarely let yourself go in the "strange" room, which doesn't look so inviting the next morning. These factors are quickly forgotten when you imagine the wildest adventures in your imagination. Well, sometimes it's enough not to have to say "no" in the right moments. They exist, these moments. Where the opportunity presents itself to pursue one's own lust... in the best case without consideration (one has to take) of losses. Conclusion: An open relationship is not just centered around sex, because sex is not a destructive or endangering force.  At the centre of these alternative relationship concepts is the emotional connection between the partners. Love, in other words.  

And what if you want a family?  

Good question. I have no answer to that. Except: There will certainly be a solution here as well, because we have become damn good at it over time: To find solutions. Solutions with which both parties can live with a clear conscience in the long run. When the time comes (and maybe the first child), I will certainly be able to give an answer to this question. Currently, I can only refer to patchwork families and "second families", which are also a counter-model to the traditional "mother-father-child" relationship. Here, at least in some cases, several adults have an influence on the upbringing of the child. The only difference: the parents no longer communicate with each other, but recently with others. What would be so bad about it if they did it at the same time? Of course, a harmonious coexistence of all parties is a basic requirement. Unfortunately, that basic requirement is not self-evident, even in (serial) monogamy. 

Or do children in separated families live in constant harmony? 

Photy by Christine Bongartz