The Competition Is Open – How Non-Monogamy Strengthens Relationships


I’m a pretty competitive person – by which I mean, I’m a very competitive person. I’m probably the most competitive person ever. I’m definitely more competitive than you.

I think competition is a good thing. People push themselves when they compete. The desire to win, to succeed, inspires us to be creative, hard-working, and focused. Competition keeps our economy running and it keeps me running… faster than everyone else.

A lack of competition is why Comcast customer service is so terrible and why the USSR failed so badly. How many (heteronormative) stories have we heard from couples who complain their wife never wants to have sex with them or that they husband never buys them flowers? I once had a coworker tell me that she stopped wearing heels after she got married because she “didn’t need to try anymore.” I don’t care what sort of relationship you’re in – if you stop trying, it’s going to fail. And in ten years, your spouse is going to leave you for someone who does try.

The competition of an open relationship keeps us fresh and in the game. We stay in shape, we’re adventurous, we flirt, and we enjoy that sense of accomplishment when we win. That’s not to say that I make my guy arm wrestle his competitors every night to determine who I am going to spend the rest of my life with. Our openness merely provides a subtle and occasional reminder that other options exist.

Competition also provides an open relationship with a level of trust and commitment which may not exist in other relationships. My partner has other options. He spends close, intimate time with other women while I spend close, intimate time with other men (and women!) And yet, we each choose to return to one another. We’re not just bound together because of some til-death-do-us-part oath from years ago; we actually want to be with one another.

So I get my flowers and he gets his… well, some things are too racy even for a swingers site. We both choose to lay down next to each other every night, knowing we won.


Neamhspleachas is a thirty-something American, currently living in the Netherlands. She works as a journalist and writer. If she’s not working, you can probably find her drinking a craft beer somewhere. Possibly somewhere far away from home. You can find her putting her multiple degrees to good use by blogging about relationships, economics, politics, and boobs that are and are not hers at

1 Comment

  1. Jake and I have been talking about this very thing over the last little while. We totally agree with you. Nothing makes a guy or girl bring their A game to every occasion than the thought that someone will show them up.

    We have both found that we make more of an effort with each other these days for lots of reasons. Initally it was prompted by guilt or not wanting to look bad. However as time has gone by we have found the rewards outweigh the effort and it has become a habit.

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