If you believe grandma and grandpa, it used to be quite simple with the relationship: you meet, marry, have children and stay together for a lifetime. For many, it was the dream of true love come true - for others, it's no longer quite the right way to go. Or rather: not yet. Because it seems that we find it increasingly difficult to really commit ourselves. How else can it be that everywhere we look, it feels like there are only non-relationships? Something binding? Better not at first. Then rather friends with benefits, a situational relationship or just mingles. Or we actually go one step further and lead an open relationship or a polyamorous partnership. That way, we have something solid to feel good about, but we don't have to give up our freedom completely. Sounds great! Or does it?
In any case, there are a lot of possibilities for not committing oneself one hundred percent to the one dream partner. But is that good or bad? Or neither? We've taken a closer look.
It's no wonder that we find it increasingly difficult to find a permanent partner. After all, dating apps like Tinder give us a huge choice of potential loves, and all it takes to make the first move is a quick swipe on the smartphone screen. How can you commit when the next promising date could be around the corner in the next moment? And in fact, it has been psychologically proven: When we have too many choices, we often get frustrated more quickly and are also less satisfied with our final decision - after all, we feel like we're missing out on a lot of other things as a result. So it's better not to overdo the browsing in apps and dating portals, but to keep the selection manageable. And also not to always think about who else you might have. After all, the question on a date is whether our counterpart is right for us at this moment and whether it can develop into something more. Everything else will then already show itself. No matter what the other dating options are.
With the trend of casual relationships, it's easy to think that today's generations are selfish, irresponsible, and simply unable to truly commit. It's best to have as much fun as possible without footing the bill. After all, a long-term partnership doesn't mean all sunshine and roses. And the more we get emotionally involved with the other person, the higher the risk of getting hurt. Of course, that's easy to avoid with this seductive non-commitment. But is it really so easy to explain? Do friends with benefits and all the other forms exist today merely because we have become more selfish?
Let's start on the other side: The lifelong marriage full of love sounds romantic and wonderful, but it does not correspond to reality everywhere. How many couples have been together for decades, but are actually not that happy with each other? How often does it happen that one or even both partners put their lives on hold and forgo a fulfilling love life because they don't want to jeopardize the existing family construct? Or who are afraid of the social pressure or financial difficulties that are often associated with a separation? And how often does a marriage break up at some point and the war of the roses that breaks out claims its victims? All of us, and especially children of divorce, have good reasons to be cautious, because we also know the pain associated with unhappy partnerships. Therefore, egoism can be a (partial) reason for alternative relationship models, but it is far from being the only one. Rather, our increasingly open society simply gives us more options to find the right path for us. And so we are more cautious in our search for love on the one hand, and perhaps more willing to try something new on the other. In the end, to find what makes us truly happy.
But what exactly are the possibilities? Basically, in addition to the classic partnership, there are three different types of relationships:
Non-committal togetherness - Situationship, Friends with benefits, Mingles.
How you call it is up to you - in any case, you do not enter into any deeper commitments. You get along well and meet regularly for sex or just to hang out or do leisure activities. So basically perfect to not feel lonely. Maybe even a relationship will develop out of it over time. For this, there is a risk that only one falls in love and a small crisis arises from this.
Open relationship / open marriage
Here, both partners feel just as strongly connected as in a classic relationship, but grant each other the right to have sex with others. The important thing here is that love is reserved exclusively for the partner. In addition, longer-term affairs are also conceivable, but deeper feelings are usually avoided. The steady partner always comes first.
Often the opening is perceived as sexual enrichment or as a possibility to live out sexual preferences that the partner cannot or does not want to fulfill. On the other hand, there is the risk that jealousy endangers love - which is why great trust and a clear set of rules make sense.
In contrast to the open relationship, the polyamorous relationship model explicitly includes feelings towards other partners. One is able to love several people at the same time and basically leads several relationships parallel to each other. A form of partnership that can be much more complex and sometimes more challenging than the classic relationship. Therefore, only suitable for people who really feel like it and can handle it in the long term. Otherwise, jealousy dramas are only a matter of time.
In no case are these modern relationship models complete nonsense or expression of pure egoism, even if they are unfortunately sometimes misleadingly advanced to give themselves basically permission to cheat. If, on the other hand, one realizes that the monogamous relationship also has its dark sides and how often partners cheat on each other - for whatever reason -, a noncommittal or open partnership can mean the chance for more honesty. Because by playing with open cards and/or sexual desire is also lived out elsewhere by mutual agreement, trust is always maintained. And that is for many the most important anchor in a relationship.
In the end, it's always your own decision that counts - and no one has the right to judge that from the outside. The only important thing is that the partners really agree on what kind of relationship they have with each other. Because if the views drift apart here, disaster is pre-programmed. That's why the first step is always an open discussion. Regardless of whether you have just met or are thinking about a change in the relationship.
In addition, the same applies as with the choice of partner: No matter which relationship model we choose, we are not bound to it forever. Maybe it works permanently, but maybe at some point the change to a traditional partnership/marriage will feel right. As long as we treat each other fairly, we have all options.