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Are open relationships the future?


Meet Valarie who is dating Mike; the perfect, happy couple. Being around them makes the single and broken hearted people feel like true love isn’t really mythical. So it’s a Friday afternoon and I was having lunch with them and a couple of friends. Val’s phone, which is on the table, vibrates and a message pops up. Sitting next to her, I can read the message; Hey pretty, TGIF! Let’s do it again, can’t wait to see you, love, Kev. Lunch goes on and we happen to share our plans for the evening and Val says she’s seeing Kev and Mike says he’s going for a movie night at Sophie’s. We then part ways and I am itching to tell my pal what the text that Val received read.


“So how long have the two been an item?” I ask a mutual friend as I add a few more coded questions not to appear as too nosy.


“I think Val is cheating with that Kev she is meeting tonight,” I eventually say. My pal casually says, “Those two are that way, they have an open relationship.”


Open relationships; a term that is slowly and steadily becoming more and more common in our campuses and the young generation at large. A concept recognized since 1970s and has majorly been associated with young Americans. It refers to a relationship in which a person is committed to one partner emotionally but has the freedom to have romantic relations with other people with the partner’s consent.


Young people in open relationships cite different reasons.  Being in their early twenties, they feel it is too early to ‘settle down’ and fill less tied down by this kind of arrangement. Moreover these young people have an adventurous sexual spirit and feel committing to one sexual partner is limiting. You might be tempted to think that is just an opinion that guys have but more and more ladies are in support of this.


Jane, dating Brian is also seeing Peter; the guy paying her rent.

“There is the guy you love genuinely and the rest are purely for material gain,” explains Jane.

Apparently, it is also very common among couples that are bisexual to invite a third party from time to time. In Kenyan campuses you’ll find this form of relationship seen as ‘convenient’ especially during weekends when wild partying is synonymous to weekends. The weekend starts all the way from Thursday for some and runs till Sunday.

Several activities take place; some choose to go clubbing where they meet new, attractive and different people that they connect with in different ways. For instance, it could be that they have similar interests or are the same intellectual level. Others attend house parties which offer a better platform to get adventurous and try out different things and others go for road trips that also end up the same way.


A study by Kevin Zimmerman from the state of Iowa says that open relationships deals with infidelity since the partners agree on the sexual boundaries. He also suggests that this kind of relationship may be characterized by more honesty than that of a normal monogamous relationship since one is expected to be faithful and if one develops an attraction for a third party, it would mostly lead to a secret affair. Zimmerman further says that of 4000 mammal species only about 3% have been found to be monogamous and our body shape shows we are not biologically designed to be faithful.


In a society unfortunately characterized by so many divorces, separations and many single mothers, is this form of relationship going to be a norm in the next couple of years to come? If this practice is becoming more and more popular among young people, does it mean we expect more dysfunctional families and marriages? What could be the problem or is there another side to the coin?

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