When in a relationship, many may wonder what it would be like to be with another; to wink at the stranger at the party or have a cute coffee date to ghost or disappear on. In an open relationship it might mean you can do both.
“[My partner] is not my “other half.” I am whole and complete, all on my own,” said Gabriela Cerros, an SF State student whose preferred pronoun is they/them/their. “Thankfully, I am in a relationship with someone who acknowledges and embraces that.”
Cerros said the beauty of being in an open relationship is that they both make up their own rules as the relationship progresses.
Cerros, who is a junior majoring in Latina/o studies, practices non-monogamy with Jayson Miller, SF State Alumnus who identifies with they/them pronouns, meaning they both can have sexual relationships with other people without each other’s permission. Although, Cerros said all open relationships are different, the only expectation they have for each other is to be honest with one another.
Open relationships have become another openly-discussed subject on campus; a possibility or opportunity to further relationships. But San Francisco is not the only place people are taking part in these relationships. According to a study from the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy as of 2015, 1 in 5 americans have been in a non-monogamous relationship.
While the study found that most demographic characteristics do not play a part in determining the possibility of an individual taking part in an open relationship, it found thatthose who identify as queer may be more likely than those who identify as heterosexual.
Cerros has worked with Miller to create boundaries for their relationship, keeping communication as a keystone to trusting each other.
“It has been great that Jayson and I are not really jealous people, but that’s not the case of everyone practicing non-monogamy,” Cerros said.
Breann McLain, psychology major at SF State, has been in a relationship for 3 years now, and she has never considered an open relationship.
“I personally don’t like the idea of sharing the time and love of my significant other with someone else,” she said. “I don’t think I would ever like it.”
McLain has made up her mind. But every relationship is different, and some people have not quite decided what they are interested in yet.
Dating has changed in the last couple of years with dating apps such as tinder, bumble and OkCupid reaching 40 percent of the population — as found in a Pew research study in 2016 — giving people the opportunity to find those who are also open to new types of relationships.
Cerros said that the open relationship was initiated by Miller when he asked if Cerros was monogamous. Their first instinct was to say “yes” because that’s the only thing they were familiar with. Cerros started to do more research because they weren’t opposed to the idea.
“I started questioning how I was taught to love and saw that it was unhealthy to love obsessively with practiced non-consensual behaviors, and how to love almost territorially,” said Cerros.
Cerros said the most important thing they learned through the process is that if your partner is sleeping or dating someone else, it doesn’t mean they are not there for you.
Miller had initiated the relationship with Cerros, since they found being in an open relationship was the only kind of relationship that worked for them in their past relationships.
“I find myself rarely doubting that my partner wants to be with me,” Miller said. “Gaby can literally be with anyone, but they choose to be with me.”
Miller does not condone open relationships for everyone, acknowledging that some people would just not be comfortable and that jealousy may occur.
“I don’t believe that beginning an open relationship is good if it is being done to avoid problems,” they said. “Open relationships are constant work and always require a lot of communication.”
Alejandra Cordero, a junior at SF State studying sociology, said she used to be in an open relationship. She said that it was fun to date other people because she learned what she liked and what she didn’t.
Cordero said she would get jealous of her partner being with other people, though, but did not feel it was acceptable to communicate with her partner because they weren’t exclusive. However, when Cordero and her partner started to spend more time together and discovered that their feelings toward one another became stronger, both decided to end the open relationship.
Although, she said they are open for a third party to join them — if both of them agree on the person.
“So instead of hooking up separate, we can hook up all together,” said Cordero.