Debunking 7 False Claims Made To Justify Open Relationships

These days, you can't throw a stone without hitting a young person who claims monogamy is outdated and unnecessary. Open relationships, they say, are the new and “evolved” way to model relationships to preserve our freedom and give us excitement and novelty.

By Julie Mastrine3 min read
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Shutterstock/Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB

Yet while many shiny promises are made about open relationships, they do nothing to make life freer and more exciting. In fact, non-monogamy actually sets us up for anxiety, instability, and disappointment — harming women and society as a whole.

Here are seven warped claims often made to justify open relationships:

1. “Monogamy just means you’re somebody’s property.”

What monogamy really means is that our partners are so valuable and precious to us that we’re willing to give up all other people in order to protect, honor, and care for only them. Far from reducing us to property, choosing another person — and only them, above all others — is the highest honor you could give to someone. 

Choosing another person, and only them above all others, is the highest honor you could give to someone.

Monogamy also liberates us from a hedonistic life pursuing meaningless, short-term sexual conquests. It unlocks deeper fulfillment, allowing us to be deeply known, loved, prioritized, and cherished by another person over time and in all circumstances.

2. “Monogamy is boring and monotonous.”

Monogamous people are actually happier, healthier, and less likely to experience anxiety and depression. 

Not only that, but the amount of experiences you can have with just one person is endless and far from boring. How many places could you go together? How many thoughts could you share? How much good could you create together? Love is based on the knowledge of the deep, inner world of another person. When diving into the vastness of a person’s inner self, what should grow is your admiration for them — not boredom. 

3. “We’re not wired for monogamy.”

Actually, we are. Human babies take a very long time to grow up, and they benefit immensely from having a full-time father. This is why women’s body chemistry evolved to release the bonding chemical oxytocin during sex. Our bodies and brains aren’t wired to feel okay with our partner sleeping with other people.

Human babies take a long time to grow up, and they benefit immensely from having a full-time father.

Of course, that doesn’t mean monogamy is always easy, and of course, some men desire to sleep with a lot of women. But truly masculine men are principled and discipline themselves against their most base instincts. They put others before themselves to achieve higher goals — like having a fulfilling, long-term relationship, protecting those around them, and building a family. 

4. “You can’t get all your needs met from one person.”

Monogamous people have never claimed that they get all of their needs met by one person. Being monogamous doesn’t mean you only ever interact with your partner — you still have friends, family, coworkers, and other people in your life to meet your myriad social and emotional needs. 

Sex and romance don’t make up all of your needs — and for most people, one person meets those particular needs just fine.

5. “Any relationship model is okay, as long as it’s consensual.”

Consent is obviously important in life, but it should never be our sole metric of morality. Something can be wrong, hurtful, and bad for us even if we agree to it (or are pressured, manipulated, or deceived into doing so). 

Consent should never be our sole metric of morality. 

Open relationships mean your partner goes out and sleeps with someone else. Even if all parties agree to it, it’s extremely unlikely that this situation will yield anything other than feelings of anxiety, sadness, instability, unworthiness and despair. And all of those feelings are 100% justified. Non-monogamy is bad for us, period — no matter whether we consent to it or not.

6. “We need to evolve past jealousy.”

While obviously jealousy can sometimes be unwarranted or taken to extremes, it’s also a perfectly normal feeling that signals someone is not holding firm the boundaries that protect and prioritize the relationship. Jealousy sends up warning flags that your partner is engaging in risky behavior that may cause them to leave you for someone else. 

We’ll never get rid of jealousy; it’s an emotion that exists to tell our brains there is danger. People in monogamous relationships avoid making their partner feel this emotion by not doing the things that lead to feelings of jealousy — they don’t flirt, become romantic with, or have sex with other people. Rather than helping us to “evolve past jealousy,” non-monogamy just ensures we feel a whole lot more of it. 

7. “Open relationships don’t harm children or families.”

Study after study shows children from two-parent families are less likely to experience a wide range of problems — academic, social, emotional, and cognitive — not only in childhood, but in adulthood as well. In addition, child abuse rates are higher in households where the biological father isn’t present. Monogamy became society’s default because it’s most conducive to creating stable families and healthy children.

Child abuse rates are higher in households where the biological father isn’t present.

Non-monogamy also erodes paternity certainty — the extent to which a man knows or believes that a woman's child is his. This is particularly bad for women, who require a commitment from a man who will protect and provide for her and her child. When a man has multiple partners, not only does it divert his time and attention away from the woman and their children, but it also creates the additional risk of him getting another woman pregnant — which means even more time and resources taken away from the family.

Closing Thoughts

The claims often used to justify open relationships sound nice on the surface, but fall apart quickly upon inspection. Rather than increasing excitement and aligning with how we’re “really meant to be,” non-monogamous relationships lead to mental health problems and instability. They make us feel devalued, harm children, and erode the deeper meaning that monogamous relationships offer. Open relationships aren’t about committing to many — they’re about committing to none. 

Giving up the potential for other partners is a sacrifice we make to build a stable future and unlock the deeper meaning and fulfillment monogamy offers. We shouldn’t fall for false claims that defile monogamy; instead, we should revere it as a worthy and valuable institution.