The UK may have a somewhat prudish reputation, but apparently we’re opening our minds… and our relationships.
New research has revealed that 38% of us would be willing to experiment with non-monogamy, while almost a third (32%) see themselves in a throuple at some point in the future.
The survey, by sexual wellness brand Lovehoney, also found that nearly half of us would consider being in a non-committed relationship, suggesting polyamory and alternative setups are on the rise.
The retailer also analysed relationships across the world, finding that Britain is the sixth least committed country with a high divorce rate and a large amount of monthly dating app downloads.
The most likely to seek commitment is Hungary, followed by Portugal, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and Germany.
Dr. Justin Lehmiller, social psychologist and research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, argues this shift towards untraditional relationships is down to increased media representation and societal acceptance.
He adds: ‘Secondly, expectations for our relationships have grown over time. People today want a partner who will be both their best friend and a passionate lover – someone who can meet any and all needs that might arise now and forever.
‘However, people seem to be increasingly recognizing that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to have such high expectations for just one partner. As a result, some are now considering whether the best solution is to have different partners who can meet different needs.’
Despite taboos being busted, though, it can still be a difficult topic to bring up.
If you’re in a relationship and want to open things up, you need to tread carefully to avoid miscommunications and hurt feelings.
Sexologist Shamyra Howard recommends openness and honesty regarding your desires, which ‘allows each person to choose how they will participate in the relationship.’
A ‘values check’ around commitment and where you see your future is useful, setting things out in no uncertain terms.
‘If your beliefs are not similar on non-negotiable values,’ says Shamyra, ‘then it makes sense to end the relationship.’
It’s crucial that you talk about this without judgement. Both partners should feel free to express what they want while understanding there’s no right or wrong answer.
Dating expert Jessica Alderson advises making sure it’s what you want before broaching the topic of an open relationship, as there’s the potential to hurt your partner’s feelings.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Be clear about why you want to open up your relationship so you can effectively communicate your reasons, and make sure that you aren’t trying to solve any issues that you have directly with your partner.’
To start with, say how much you appreciate your partner, explaining that your commitment to them hasn’t impacted your decision.
Crucially, give your partner time to process the situation and reassure them that you won’t do anything behind your back.
Being specific about what your open relationship might look like can also help. Are you looking to explore emotional connections with others or is it purely sexual? What are the boundaries you’ll have in place? Are you comfortable with your partner being with other people as well as yourself? Go deep here, because vagueness will only lead to unexpected issues later on.
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Think it over and clear your head in a soothing bath. Ask your partner to join you for skin-on-skin contact that inspires a feeling of intimacy.
‘Actively listen to your partner’s response and any questions they might have,’ says Jessica.
‘It’s essential that you are non-judgmental, kind, and supportive towards your partner throughout the entire conversation.
‘This helps to create a safe space where both of you can communicate openly without getting defensive.’
Whatever you do, avoid mentioning people who’ve caught your eye. This is supposed to be something that helps strengthen your relationship and lets you both grow together, not a way for you to sidestep fidelity by getting reluctant permission to cheat.
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