THE MODERN ERA
Young, non-monogamous, and ready to play- sounds easy right? I have stepped into the non-monogamous space for the past year of my life, and realized quickly I have been missing out on the world’s wonders. Under the blanket of monogamy, you may feel the need to mold to one partner’s needs- when in reality, you could have a variety of partners that each have wonderful things to offer. To expect one person to fulfill every need is a bit… tasking.
My partners and I have amazing, open communication that has no bounds. We see other people, and congratulate each other for milestones we may hit with other partners. I feel very free, and able to be who I am- something that used to be hidden in my past monogamous life. I have been fortunate enough to have plenty of partners, who have all been sourced from my local circle of friends and new friends I make along the way. But dating? Well, I have only been on one date in the past 5 years. One night stand or casual one time hookup? I’ve had one in my life.
The Dating Scene Can Be Daunting
It’s 2019- a good and a bad thing. Good, because expressing my sexuality and preferences is becoming much more open, but bad because I don’t always have the quick resources for it. While my partners are usually my friends, I have found that even my shy self would like to venture out for a bit of casual fun. As someone who constantly travels and has very specific sexual requirements, I see most “dating” resources as inconvenient and incredibly daunting.
My first night in Barcelona, I created a Tinder and Bumble in hopes of finding casual fun or excitement, but was met with incredible disappointment. The experience was astoundingly underwhelming and frustrating. You really can’t tell anything about someone when seeing one photo of them on a screen, and the conversations to initiate any contact felt like pulling teeth. Since I am kinky, I think it’s also important to try to vet potential partners for your safety and hopefully have the best experience. Open communication to try and vet your potential partner? Forget about it. It felt like a lost cause, and I quickly gave up after one night.
Connection on the most basic level is necessary to be able to communicate your intentions and boundaries even for string-free fun.
Finding myself running through a sea of people at the Brooklyn Sex Expo, my dear friend Jean from SDC was taking me around to meet innovative and like-minded folks. When we stopped at #open’s booth, I was a bit star struck to see one of the industries best sex educators, Dirty Lola, greeting with a bright smile. I hadn’t heard of #open, and was quick to meet one of the co-founders, Amanda Wilson, who explained the mission behind this new platform. Amanda described the need for connection, inclusivity, and communication when it came to meeting new people online. A safer place to be yourself, express your identity, and openly show your intentions. After our conversation, I was intrigued.
Who is #open?
Far from the traditional idea of what a “dating” app is, #open is an app-based community that helps its members foster genuine connections. #open’s unique values encourage you to build relationships on a solid foundation. What do I mean by this? In a nutshell, this is a platform where you can be who you want to be, correctly identify yourself, express what you want, and clearly express what you don’t want. A place where all genders are safer, all sexual orientations are welcome, and you can speak freely about your intentions and what types of connections you hope to make.
Traditional social apps are the complete opposite of inclusivity. In fact, they are stifling to your individuality and your experiences- there is no room to embody yourself. Your only option is to be classified, put in a box that doesn’t truly describe who you are, or what you want. There is very little room for incredible, fun, and hot connections when the only two deciders are if you are male or female, and if you are seeking male or female. How boring, right?
As a non monogamous, kinky gal who isn’t completely straight, I was mesmerized. Could I really, openly, be me? Could I really have the opportunity to be upfront about my needs, and actually connect with those who share the same ones? Let’s take this for a spin.
When signing up for the platform, you are lead through a variety of steps which I will outline below. First, I think it is important to highlight #open’s “Rules of the Game"
As a self regulating community, #open takes reports of misconduct seriously to help protect its members.
In my kink community, these are core ethics that we follow ALWAYS, and it’s impressive to see that represented to the greater community at large. Far too often in the world do we disregard these very important ethics. Especially on platforms that are meant to connect people, we tend to see a higher rate of disrespect, harassment, and questionable actions- which is finally, FINALLY, regulated by a platform.
Through a quick sign up, you are lead to create the most important and versatile part of this platform- your profile! You can see what mine looks like, and I would beg to say it is pretty glorious.
It warmed my heart to be able to choose my gender identity, alongside 24 gender identities (plus the option to put in your own if you don’t identify with any on the list). This truly creates a very safe, open space for individuals who don’t fall under the binary. On many other apps, it can be unavailable to identify outside of the binary, which can be inaccurate, uncomfortable, and even dangerous for its users and the encounters they may have.
When choosing your sexual orientation, you are also given 23 options (with the option to choose your own if yours isn’t available). This was the most meaningful part for me, because I am incredibly heteroflexible. While I have been heterosexual most my life, I have had plenty of experiences with women that were satisfying and intriguing. Being able to choose heteroflexible gives me the peace of mind that I can search for new connections without the pressure of labeling my sexuality something it’s not.
Moving onto relationship status, I was given 13 options to accurately depict where I’m at in terms of my commitments- it’s always super awkward on other platforms having to explain in my bio that I’m dating multiple people. Given this option, it’s incredibly easy to screen potential connections to see where they stand as well: Married? In relationship? Engaged?
This is a very important step in getting to know someone, especially in the non-monogamous realm.
Once you identify your relationship status, you are offered 11 different options (with the option to choose your own) to describe your relationship type. This level of transparency may sound too good to be true, but fortunately for us it gets even better.
The Revolutionary Part
On #open, you can create a profile solo (single) or partnered (couple). If you want, you can have two profiles- your solo and your partnered! You get the best of both worlds, with both profile types giving you the freedom to seek connections alone or with your partner. I know, I know- they really nailed it!
Under the “Preferences” Tab, You are given the freedom to express your interests and intentions through the use of hashtags. As you can see, I have listed various hashtags that express my desire for kinky experiences in bondage and submission. I put that I enjoy tall men, music, traveling, and rough sex. On brand? I think yes.
Underneath, I put that “I’m Open To” dominance and bondage art, but I could really add a variety of different hashtags. For example- I am a complete submissive, so putting that I am open to Dominance is a clear way to communicate that hey.. I might give Domming a shot.
I then added my tags for what I’m “Looking For”, to which I simply put a play partner and travel partner- I’m a simple gal. If I want more, I can put more.
This makes it incredibly easy for potential connections to read my profile and see my intentions clearly, my interests, and see if my values align with theirs. It takes the guesswork out of traditional social apps, and saves my shy self the embarrassment of having to have the “are you kinky” conversation.
If you have read anything on my page, you know I love boundaries more than anything. The boundaries tab on the app is the most helpful aspect for me personally. I can choose to see solo or partnered, which genders, age, distance from me, and also list my hard limits. Listing my hard limits is useful so I can be notified if a potential connection might be interested in exploring those limits. A great way to show transparency, I can make a better informed decision when knowing what limits a potential connection wants to explore.
Main Page Design
The main page is wonderful because you can either sort through couples or individuals one by one, or look at the grid view. When looking at the grid view, you can see who you liked or passed (individuals don’t just disappear, which I love). At any point, you can expand your boundaries to reach new potential connections, or narrow them down.
As opposed to other platforms, you can actually undo your pass if you would like to try to reconnect or expand your boundaries. Using the tabs on the bottom of the page, you can choose to filter connections by people you have liked, passed, or matched with. Once you have made a match, you can start a convo through the messaging icon on the upper right side of the screen- it’s super straight forward!
As someone who travels often, I highly enjoy the “Location and Travel” feature. On your boundaries tab, you can press on the airplane icon underneath the distance meter. Here, you can choose to use your current location, or enter in your travel destination. This can help you make connections before you get to your destination, or while you are exploring.
As opposed to other platforms, you can actually undo your pass if you would like to try to reconnect or expand your boundaries.
My Beautiful Experience
When first making my profile, I was enthralled with the versatility there was in describing myself and my needs. I wasn’t put into a box- I was able to fully express my intentions when it came to using the platform. This feeling was doubled when viewing other individuals profiles, and seeing just how free they can be with their identity.
There is no person left behind on this platform, we are all equally valid and heard. Looking at my connections, I was met with tons of versatility and inclusivity. There are people of all genders, all ages, and all types of abilities. It warmed my heart to see older couples looking to explore and discover their sensualities together, to young individuals looking to explore their identities. No matter who you were, you can celebrate your interests such as kink, bonding, and even things like traveling or planning meals. Surprisingly enough, many of the profiles were individuals who expressed wanting to form platonic friendships and find connections who they can be honest with.
Through this immersive experience, I can say my favorite part is the ethics behind the platform and how I was represented. In terms of my connections, it was harder to find a match, which is honestly a good thing. It took me longer to find matches because finally, I was able to be discerning and see which potential connections completely matched with my intentions. This is a missing component in other platforms, which causes you to spend tons of emotional energy trying to vet the people you matched with based off of very few requirements. Even if it was just to make platonic connections, I enjoyed speaking to those I matched with because we shared the same interests.
My hopes with using this platform further is to expand my connections, especially with my travel schedule. I also hope to use this as a resource to expand my journey into non-monogamy, being able to interact with multiple people and couples. There is so much versatility in the world, and #open is giving me the resources to make genuine connections on my terms. It saves me precious time by letting me seek exactly what I want, and not leaving anything to question. The only improvement this platform could use is simply more users- which is why it's important for people like you and I to sign up and give it a go!
Check out more at https://hashtagopen.com, available through the App Store or Google Play!