Cheating vs. Open Relationships

From the outside, cheating on a partner and being in an open (or non-monogamous) relationship can look very similar. But there’s a definite difference between the two. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Open relationships

This is when two people in a relationship agree and consent to date or sleep with people outside of the relationship. The details of how an open relationship works changes from couple to couple, and should always be based on what each partner is comfortable with.


Cheating, however, is when a partner (or both partners) in the relationship have agreed to be monogamous, but still have sexual relations outside of the relationship and keep this a secret from one another. Cheating isn’t only sexual though- many people even consider emotional cheating just as hurtful. This is when you have intimate, flirtatious conversations with someone or reveal things to them that not even your partner knows about.

So what is the difference?

Choma the difference between the two situations comes down to one thing- whether your partner knows and agrees to it. The point of an open relationship and polyamory in general is that nothing is hidden from your partner, and the intention behind involving other people in the relationship isn’t to hurt them

People have different reasons for getting into an open relationship, the same way people have different excuses for why they cheat- but at the end of the day it’s important to remember that as soon as you start having sex with more than one person, you’re increasing your risk of exposure to STIs including HIV, which is why it’s so important to always use protection, no matter what. Open relationships don’t work for everyone, and that’s okay too. The most important ingredients for the success of any kind of relationship are honest communication and trust.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).