According to the India Today Sex Survey 2017, casual sex is more popular in India than ever – 41% men and 29% women are open to one-night stands. Overall 26% have had sex with someone who is not their partner. Another aspect about the survey, which was reported recently, was that open marriages in the country are being talked about more often these days. A separate study conducted recently by the University of Michigan, USA, found out that people in open relationships are as happy as those in committed relationships. And, since there wasn’t any statistic about open marriages in India, we spoke to relationship counsellors in the city about the concept of open marriages.
Understanding the concept
According to relationship expert Riddhish K Maru, open marriages have indeed increased because people’s attitudes are changing. He says, “With the changing times, people’s mindsets have changed rapidly in our country. For many people, over time, sex with each other has become routine. So, open marriages are a way of getting out of the routine. This way, you are not ending the marriage in a divorce and keeping your families happy at the same time. Another reason could be that you are not satisfying your partner. Then there are some people who think that sexual fidelity is childish and humans are not made to be monogamous. For some, because they have options, this is the only way they can stick together. Finally, for some, open marriages are a way of giving each other the freedom to do what they want.”
But, relationship expert Kinjal Pandya says that open marriages are not everyone’s cup of tea. She says, “Open marriages are only for people who take a tough stand, for people who are extremely clear about what they want in life, and for those who are open enough to give that complete space to their partners. Open marriages are only for people who can accept their partner’s polygamous behaviour along with theirs.”
At the same time, it’s important that couples who opt for open marriages make sure they don’t get emotionally attached to their sexual partners. Relationship expert Shyam Mithiya agrees. He says, “Make sure you don’t know your partner well. It’s better if he or she is a stranger. This is the general criteria from my experience talking to people in open marriages. If they are strangers, there is not going to be much of a connection between the two of you, other than the physical aspect. You should not have sex with one partner more than twice or thrice. You break this rule, and the chances of getting attached to a person increase. Also, make sure you keep your interaction level with this person to a minimum.”
Finally, Mithiya has a word of caution - he says that open marriages are fraught with problems. He says, “Open marriages always sound rosy initially. But, most of them end in creating problems for people... at least that’s what I have learnt from couples who are in open marriages. This is why these people end up coming to people like us for therapy eventually. I have not seen anybody in open marriages doing good in the long term.”