Open relationships are something many Rwandans used to read about or hear in stories, like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s kind of relationship, but this is something that was seen as taboo. An open relationship is an intimate relationship that is sexually non-monogamous. The term is distinct from polyamory, in that it generally indicates a relationship where there is a primary emotional and intimate relationship between two partners, who agree to at least the possibility of sexual or emotional intimacy with other people. Open relationships differ from swinging, in which partners have sex with other people at parties and where the relationships are purely sexual. Got it? Yeah, now this is a reality we are living with today, in Rwanda. While the majority of the people still stick to the conventional relationships and the Biblical call of one-man, one-woman approach, young people, particularly below 30, are finding themselves comfortable being in open relationships. A recent survey done by a local NGO showed that at least 10 out of 20 young people aged between 24 and 30 revealed that they had several active sexual partners, some of whom know each other and are okay with it. “I don’t think it is cheating. I have a boyfriend but he knows that I see other people and he is okay with it, though we don’t openly talk about it. As long as I make time to be with him, he is okay,” a young woman interviewed in the survey said. Another young man identified as Innocent Ruzindana, currently in third year of study at one of the private universities in Rwanda, said that he also has multiple girlfriends who know about each other. “If they are not fighting each other, I am okay with it. Personally, I am not ready to be in a fulltime relationship because I am still pursuing my studies but if they are okay to chill with me, I have no problem with that,” the 25-year-old said during the survey. Playing it safe Many of the young people interviewed said they were okay with knowing that they are in an open relationship where they both know what they want and don’t want to complicate each other’s lives. “Instead of being hurt after finding out, it is better that people know what they are going into and ensure that they don’t have strings attached. Some of the people are doing it because they don’t want to get married,” explained another young person who spoke on condition of anonymity. Majority of the people interviewed during the exercise said that it is okay as long as they keep their lovers separate and don’t overdo it in the eyes of the other person. According to experts, the one rule with non-monogamy is that all the ugly things must be done ethically, safely, and with consent of all parties involved. Most important, there has to be consensus even though not necessarily written. Even though it feels like a wrong practice in the first place, you will be shocked to learn that open relationships thrive on honesty, respect too and consent or else it might not work. Many people assume that an open relationship has no rules. A recent article published in Vogue earlier this month indicated that all open relationships have rules which the two people agree on together and change them accordingly when one party starts feeling uncomfortable. According to the article, one of the main reasons young people are finding themselves comfortable in open relationships is because they don’t want to tie themselves down or commit to each other, much as they want to be together. The other reason is because young people don’t want to give away all their freedom, retaining a small percentage to be free and do things on their own terms. The other rule states that whatever happens there must be consent, lest it will be considered cheating. According to the aforementioned survey, one of the main reasons young people gave for being in open relationships is to retain sexual freedom rather than tying themselves down. However, experts warn that it is not all rosy in open relationships as it seems chances of conflict remain high, mistrust, exposure to diseases and generally lacking focus in life can be a recipe for disaster for those who opt to enter one.