Loving many

Open relationships are pretty varied, but typically occur when a couple wants to be together while remaining ‘open’ to sexual contact with other people. There can be different reasons for wanting an open relationship, we give some advice to keep on top of your sexual health.

Relationships where all sexual activities beyond the couple take place with the knowledge and consent of all those involved are sometimes called ‘polyamorous’. In theory, polyamorous relationships offer a greater degree of consistency and trust than completely open relationships. This applies particularly to HIV and other STIs, if all participants in the relationship are known to each other, it should be easier to remain aware of everyone’s HIV and sexual health status.

In open relationships, the term ‘fluid bonding’ is sometimes used to describe the point at which participants in the relationship decide to have unprotected sex. Before this happens, it’s generally considered respectful and responsible to get tested for HIV and other STIs.

Opinions and scientific research findings vary on advantages and disadvantages to health and happiness of open relationships. However, findings from a recent study into open relationships among gay men concluded firmly that success in these relationships requires strict adherence to a set of mutually agreed rules. For many, these will include telling the other person when you are going to have sex with someone else, and always practising safe sex.