Today’s guest post comes from Meredith Cox who lives and works in Shanghai, China.
Before I tell you what an open relationship is, I’ll tell you what an open relationship isn’t: Open relationships aren’t cheating. Cheating is when you break your relationship rules against your partner’s knowledge and wishes — for most people this means having sex with someone else without their partner’s approval.
Open relationships, while not cheating, can be hard to define, because they can mean different
arrangements for different couples. In broad terms, however, an open relationship is one where you are emotionally monogamous but sexually non-monogamous (with your partner’s consent). There are lots of variations on this, but most open relationships fall under this definition in one way or another. Some common open relationships types include swingers (where two couples exchange partners), threesomes (a couple together has sex with another person), and couples where one or both partners have occasional sex with someone outside their relationship.
Polyamory (where someone is in a committed relationship with two or more people) is also considered an open relationship, but differs from the types above in that in a polyamorous relationship, it’s implied that you are both emotionally and sexually committed to more than one person (i.e., it’s not just sex). For this article, I’m focusing on open relationships where two partners are emotionally committed, but interested in having uncommitted sex with someone else.
There are also a lot of reasons why a person might decide to have an open relationship instead of breaking up with their partner. Maybe you (or your partner!) are bored. Maybe sex has become monotonous, or you have mismatched libidos, or your partner has lost interest or can no longer have sex, or you have a fetish, kink or desire that your partner can’t fulfill. Maybe you just want to experiment with someone else! Basically, relationships become “open” when partners decide that they want to have sex with other people, but they don’t want to break up with each other for whatever reason.
Getting into an open relationship is a personal choice, obviously, and it’s not for everyone. Before you take on an open relationship, there are five main points to consider:
First, you’ve absolutely got to discuss having an open relationship with your partner to find out how you both feel about the idea. If you don’t have the guts to bring up the topic openly and clearly, then an open relationship is probably not for you.
2. Create boundaries
Figure out what kind of open relationship you’re going to have. Some couples only allow each
other to kiss or flirt with other people. Some couples insist only on threesomes, where they’re
both involved. Some couples allow each other to have sex with other people, with various levels
of restriction to abide by. Whatever you want to do, discuss it with your partner, compromise if need be, and stick to those boundaries.
You’ll also need to think about how much you’re going to share with your partner. Will you have
a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of agreement, or will you share details of whom, what and when?
Come to an agreement about sharing however much you feel comfortable with without feeling like you’re being lied or pandered to.
3. Make rules
You MUST have a set of rules before starting an open relationship. There are no exceptions on
this. Rules will vary from couple to couple, but it’s important to discuss them with your partner and that you both agree on them. Then, you have to follow the rules without exception.
The rules will be different depending on what type of relationship you have and want to have and
what you’re allowing each other to do, but here are some examples of common rules for different
types of open relationships:
• Both partners must always practice safe sex outside the relationship
• No sex with other people in the bed (or home) you share
• No sex with mutual friends or coworkers
• Sex is only allowed when both partners participate (for example, a threesome)
• No sex unless the other person is out of town
• Both partners must come home at night (no spending the night with someone else)
• You must tell any potential hook-ups that you’re in an open relationship
4. Make your partner a priority
In order to make an open relationship work, the time you spend pursuing sex with someone else
should never interfere with time and obligations you have with your partner. Basically, your
partner is still your priority and should be treated that way. Being aware of this will go a long way to alleviating potential jealousy and resentment in an open relationship.
5. Reevaluate your situation
You’ll need to occasionally reevaluate how your relationship is doing. Are you both happy and
satisfied? Are you still emotionally connected? Is an open relationship working for you? If it’s not working for you (or your partner), you may need to change your rules so it’s a better fit, or consider other changes (like going back to monogamy or even breaking up). Relationships
change over time, including open ones, so it’s perfectly normal to have mixed feelings or a change or heart over the status of your relationship.
Open relationships may fix a small portion of your relationship, but if you have problems that extend beyond sexual compatibility, an open relationship isn’t likely to solve your problems. Don’t let yourself be forced into any situation that makes you uncomfortable, and likewise, don’t force your partner into an uncomfortable situation either.
* In the last five years, Meredith Cox has lived in America, England and Thailand. She currently lives and works in Shanghai, China. She likes new music, old music, and planning her next holiday.
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 20, 2012, 12:18 pm
This is a very clear, fair, and positive explanation of what open relationships are and aren’t. I feel sorry that those who choose them are continuously forced to defend and explain them.
I want to be especially honest with myself and say that whenever this topic comes up, I find myself feeling incredibly uncomfortable and sort of sick to my stomach. I suspect I am not along and that it is this same “sick” feeling that drives many people to shun or attack such relationship (much in the same way that maybe people do/have done about homosexual relationships despite the fact that no one is asking THEM to have one).
I have been trying to ask myself WHY this is the case. Why does it bother ME if no one is asking ME to be in an open relationship, (and in fact I am in a very satisfying monogamous relationship)?
The answer I come up with is FEAR. I think my fear is that SOMEHOW this is what is actually natural for human beings. Or maybe that is natural more so for men. On a deep gut level, I don’t want this arrangement for myself. I’m even afraid OF wanting it in the future (how’s that for a mental pretzel?). For reasons that may be entirely cultural, and not biological, I feel that sexual monogamy is something essentially sacred for ME (again, I have no negative feelings about others choosing it, just a fear that somehow I will end up there myself).
And so, maybe I fear that long-term sexual monogamy is unrealistic and that, at some point, I will have to accept that and yield to an open arrangement OR else my relationship will develop into something repressed, bored, and dysfunctional –or worse, one of us will have an affair.
Sexual boredom in long-term relationships a reality. And cheating is not uncommon, perhaps because there are too few alternatives arrangements such as the ones you describe.
But I WANT sexual monogamy to work, long-term. And that’s where my fear stems from.
I hope you all don’t mind this raw honesty. I just wanted to tap into this (usually) unspoken anxiety….
Sarah January 20, 2012, 12:30 pm
You just explained perfectly the feeling in my gut that I couldn’t place. Fear is exactly it. I’m scared that all relationships are most natural when they’re open and that people’s (and my) resistance to having an open relationship will guarantee my boyfriend and I will decline sexually. I hope so badly that that is not true and that my boyfriend and I will always work at making monogamous sex work well for us, but its so scary to see all those sexless marriages and relationships on the other side.
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 20, 2012, 12:39 pm
Thank you Sarah! This has been on my mind a lot and I wanted to explore it here for a few reasons. One, to maybe offer an explanation for why people are unfairly critical of open relationships and to sort of call ourselves out on it. Two, to invite people to tell me my fears are founded or unfounded 🙂
I appreciate that I’m not alone in this fear and I seriously appreciate the opportunity to voice it here with the support of the community.
JK January 20, 2012, 12:59 pm
I loved your comment, and that awful feeling is all too familiar to me, usually in the context of cheating though (my husband seems to condone cheating in acquaintances far more than I do, even though he´s faithful).
Now I think of it, an ex did once propose a threesome to me, and I got that horrible feeling as well.
I think that open relationships might be more talked about now, but not necessarily because it´s more common. Just like all types of sexuality, we think that our ancestors were a lot more closed than they probably were
Sarah January 20, 2012, 1:01 pm
Yeah, I think on my part thinking about open relationships in the past (I am totally guilty of doing the “Well that’s fine for you but I would never…” statements) has definitely been about projection and I think that most people also react that way because of fear. Fear that we’re not enough for a person sexually, fear that there’s nothing we can do about being left one day for a better arrangement…
But. But. But. I do a lot of research into unhappy sexless marriages (I always have to research the f*ck out of whatever I’m afraid of, its so weird) and I really think the decline in sex isn’t so much that couples get bored with each other, its that they discover they don’t communicate/don’t feel right for each other anymore and the lack of sex is just a symptom for a different problem. I truly believe (mostly because I’m scared not to) that if two people that are right for each other and they keep sex as important a relationship factor as communicating and supporting etc etc then they will be able to keep each other satisfied.
JK January 20, 2012, 1:05 pm
I choose to believe that, as well- I know I´ve said it before, but I´ve been with my husband for 9 something years now, with a lot of ups and downs, 2 kids, etc. and I can guarantee our sex life is a lot better than it has been at some stages.
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 12:42 pm
I’m curious about something after reading your comment. I did not read the article.
Do you think that open relationships are or will soon be as common as homosexual relationships? (I’ve admitted my ignorance as to open relationships on here before, so hopefully my question doesn’t insult anyone.) I do not think so, nor do I think they are nearly as common as some people make them out to be. Maybe this community is just exposing me to things I never have been before, so I’m more aware of them now, but until here I’ll honestly say I’ve never heard of a real open relationship other than on some TLC show. Thoughts anyone?
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 20, 2012, 12:51 pm
I honestly have no idea –as to whether its more or less common that homosexual relationships. However, I would venture to say its far more common than the impression you had –especially because I think that many people feel the need to keep it secret.
JK January 20, 2012, 1:02 pm
Do you read Savage Love? That´s a real eye opener. And you´ll definitely read about a lot more things you´ve never heard of.
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 1:12 pm
I don’t. Checked it out once, didn’t really enjoy. I know a lot of people love him though.
I guess I just don’t really think it is that common. Maybe I’m sheltered, but I don’t think so really. I imagine a VERY small percentage of people actually are in open relationships and thought maybe I’m just seeing more of it here because its a relationship blog and thats just one of many types of relationships.
JK January 20, 2012, 1:18 pm
My philosophy on these matters is that noone really knows what goes on behind closed doors. I guess don´t judge a book by it´s cover goes as well.
I think people many times feel like thay have to hide their personal truth for fear of being judged by others for being outside “the norm”. And i think that that is really sad.
JK January 20, 2012, 1:19 pm
Clarification: I´m pretty vanilla, but I think everyone should do as they please when it comes to sex, as long as no innocents are hurt (ie: kids, animals or unwilling partners)
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 1:28 pm
Feel the same way. I’m pretty vanilla too, but could careless about how others are. Never could understand why anyone would care what others do in their beds.
amber January 20, 2012, 1:28 pm
I’m going to have to agree with you there. We have no idea what other people’s relationships are like. For instance I grew up in a tiny town (tiny tiny). I guess it’s bigger now there are maybe 40,000 people who live there. Anyway, there is a group of swingers who meets at a local restaurant every week (sadly when one restaurant found out what they were, they were sort of unofficially kicked out, i guess made to feel very unwelcome would be good wording?). People who normally I guess would probably get labeled very ‘normal’ or ‘vanilla’ as JK said below. I guess my point is it’s not like they wear giant neon signs saying we’re swingers. They’re just people who enjoy a little something different in the bedroom.
Lili January 20, 2012, 4:38 pm
I had to stop reading and listening to Savage Love, it was making me believe that most people are cheating and into kinks that make me feel icky. I’m pretty vanilla and want to believe that a vanilla man is out there for me-not afraid that every guy I meet will secretly have a cuckholding fetish and be all into fire play.
JK January 20, 2012, 4:50 pm
Lately some commentersover there have been complaining about the columns being too vanilla, and it does certainly seem a lot tamer than when I first saw it (or maybe I´ve become immune???)
But don´t worry Lili, there are definitely vanilla guys out there.
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 4:50 pm
I’m curious of the response you will get on this comment.
This is sorta what I was trying to above about how it seems “common” on DW (open relationships) but that’s because this is a relationship site. I do not think its as common in the real world. I imagine if all I listened to was Rush Limbaugh, I’d think his views and that of his listeners was common, or if I spent all my time at places like Walmart, I’d think wearing pajamas in public was common, oh wait…that’s just me.
Lili January 20, 2012, 5:20 pm
OOO good point. I wasn’t trying to be controversial, I’m just in such a grumpy mood because of the crazy weather Seattle’s been hit with and how getting to work each day is such a challenge! I should have phrased it better like Jess did. Yeah, Savage does attract those questions, so it does skew one’s world views. I’m already traumatized by the relationships I see around me, and my love of advice columns def adds to my already formed view of how hard relationships are.
kittyk January 20, 2012, 5:55 pm
LOL to “I’d think wearing pajamas in public was common…”
You’re right though, good examples- if all you read or listen to or know tends to lend itself to a certain viewpoint, it can make something seem much more mainstream than it actually is.
GingerLaine January 23, 2012, 2:08 pm
…and then you find out the Speaker of the House asked his wife for one.
AKchic January 20, 2012, 1:41 pm
You don’t hear about these things because, honestly, it’s not like we go around advertising these things in public.
We are normal people, and we have been raised just like you. We were taught that you don’t discuss politics, religion and sex in mixed company, just like everyone else. It’s just ettiquette. I don’t get up in the morning with the urge to go to work and troll for a new partner to liven up my life (that’s not what happens at all, seriously, I’m just making up a stereotype scenario). We do not go to the bar to prey on drunken women to take advantage of them. We don’t check out innocent girls in the produce section. I’m not a repressed, abused woman who is submissive to a domineering man who likes to be “in charge” and wants multiple partners. In our relationship, he’s actually perfectly content being in a monogamous relationship.
There is a delicate balance of finding time for everyone involved. Especially when there are kids in the mix. Respect for everyone is key. If there is no respect, then it can’t work.
kittyk January 20, 2012, 3:23 pm
Not insulted, per se, but your question about open relationships soon being as common as homosexual relationships bugs me but I am having trouble articulating why. When Jess likened her negative gut reaction to open-relationships to those who don’t approve of homosexual relationships, I could understand what she was trying to get at- having a baseless aversion to something that has nothing to do with you personally.
However, asking if open relationships will be common like homosexual relationships seems disrespectful in some way, maybe because one IS a choice and one IS NOT ? (I’m sure arguments can be made that some people aren’t wired for monogamy or it isn’t natural etc etc but I’m referring to people who think homosexuality is a choice) Or it implies a difference between hetero- and homo- relationships? Implies that homosexual relationships are an ‘alternative’ relationship in a negative way perhaps? Both can be in monogamous or open relationships afterall.
I can see how the argument can be made that people are much more accepting of homosexuals nowadays where historically it was something more secretive, much like people in open relationships often aren’t ‘out’ with that particular aspect of their relationship. That the tides are turning and people are being more open about and open to open relationships.
Not trying to be mean or start anything at all, just trying to figure out why that really rubbed me the wrong way.
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 4:19 pm
I meant in how you spoke of it in your 3rd paragraph. I think you read way too much into what I said-meant no similarity between choice/no choice or anything like what you said you could’ve been insulted by.
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 4:22 pm
I do not have the reaction Jess spoke of, which I think she really articulated well in any event.
Simply, I was asking do you think one is as common as the other or ever will be.
Like you said, at one time gay people were rarely heard of and now not at all. I’m wondering if the same will happen with couples in open relationships–will it become more common than it is now, because I do not think its all that common now.
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 4:23 pm
Re-reading this, it came out funny, hopefully you can see what I am trying to say.
kittyk January 20, 2012, 5:49 pm
Thanks for replying. Like I said, I really wasn’t trying to stir things up nor did I think you actually meant it in a negative way. It was just my knee-jerk reaction to what exactly was written- it read funny to me and struck a nerve. I think its because some people still view homosexuality as a perverse alternative type of relationship, as opposed to seeing it as no different from a relationship between one man and one woman. An open relationship, however, is just a ‘type’ of relationship, or even just an aspect of one, hetero or homo, or somewhere in between. 🙂
I don’t know how common they are or aren’t right now- because people in open relationships tend to not be ‘out’ to people they know personally. From what I can gather they are much more common than most realize. Its like not sharing the specific intimate details of your sex life with people who don’t need to know. My friends and family don’t need to know my boyfriend like me to peg him, but that doesn’t mean I don’t do it.
I think thanks to conversations like the ones on this site & on Savage Love open relationships are becoming more visible- if only in people’s awareness of them, not necessarily personal knowledge. This could lead to people (in hetero or homo relationships) being more open in discussing them with people they know, being comfortable with the idea, and possibly realizing it is something they want to try. That would make them more common.
Talking about homosexual relationships won’t make them more common, sexual orientation is what it is, but it might make people still in the closet more comfortable with coming out.
Eagle Eye January 20, 2012, 1:59 pm
This is a fantastic response to something that I’ve really struggled over as well – Why am I so repulsed by the idea of an open relationship? As an academic art historian, I find that I’m constantly working towards finding and rooting out my biases so that I can look at them objectively – but for some reason I just can’t shake this one.
I think that you’re right – it does come from a place of fear, which is why I don’t have nearly the same reaction to homosexual relationships – they have absolutely no bearing on MY relationship as an aggressively straight person but open heterosexual relationships hit so much closer to home.
This anxiety over my aversion towards open relationships manifested itself the other day, actually, in a conversation with my boyfriend. In which, we both discussed how sex can very well be, well, just, but that we don’t actually want the other person to have sex with anyone else – not even in the context of a threesome.
This comes from the argument that monogamy is an inherently flawed and unnatural system – but, as they’re always stating on the Gloss (my other favorite website!) we’re humans, we should live above our base instincts and not live entirely by mauling each other or sleeping with whom ever we want at that particular moment.
But, even if sex is just sex, I like that it is made into something more by just being between my boyfriend and I. By instilling that rule, we MAKE it special and important and it allows there to be something sacred within our relationship. If sex is just sex, than aren’t emotions just emotions? Whose to say one is necessarily different from the other…
Ugh, sorry for my ramblings, I’m just trying to unpack all of these inherent prejudices while simultaneously rationalizing my own need for sexual and emotional monogamy…
Eagle Eye January 20, 2012, 2:19 pm
On further thought – perhaps monogamy should be on a spectrum – like homo/heterosexuality, so that one is not necessarily more or less good, but it is entirely dependent of the person and the members of any single relationship.
Maybe that’s what can turn me off from Open relationships – that people are naturally more suited when I don’t feel like I am – perhaps its just best to describe a person or a couple as a point on the spectrum of non/monogamy?
JK January 20, 2012, 3:22 pm
I like Dan Savage´s term “monogamish” myself 🙂
kittyk January 20, 2012, 3:25 pm
I <3 Dan Savage
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 20, 2012, 4:08 pm
Thanks EE 🙂
ChemE January 20, 2012, 2:10 pm
I kind of feel the same way. I think whatever makes you AND your partner happy is just fine. I mean, personally I don’t think I’d ever be ok with sharing my husband. He’s mine and I’m happy with that. We’ve discussed different ideas, like threesomes and such, but both figure the fantasy of it would be better than the real life repercussions that could arise.
Now on the topic of the religious multiple partner thing, that really gets me because it’s not fair to both sexes. Yes polygamist mormons I’m talking to you. When the “open” part only applies to one of the people in the relationship, then I get iffy about it. Now if that’s the arrangement, and both have agreed without any sort of “duty” discussed then fine, but otherwise it’s just being a jerk.
(and yes, I realize that to offical LDS, polygamists are not considered mormon)
Skyblossom January 20, 2012, 2:39 pm
The down side for many young men who grow up in those polygamous communities is that they aren’t needed or wanted. For every man who has ten wives nine men go without a wife and so they try to kick out lots of the young men. Probably the majority of their young men are pushed out of the community.
Samantha January 20, 2012, 3:02 pm
Yeah. in Utah those boys are known as the “Lost Boys” because they end up homeless. There are shelters that try to rehabilitate them to the rest of society and get them on their feet.
kittyk January 20, 2012, 5:51 pm
Agreed about the polygamist thing- that is not the same as an open or polyamorous relationship. It is a lifestyle that is oppressive to women where the men have all the power.
Rachel December 4, 2012, 1:46 am
Hi. My husband and I have been married for two years, together for close to four. We got married young, and decided at a very early stage that what we wanted was an open relationship. Our particular “version” of this open relationship is Swingers. I have sex with who I please as does he, and we love to go out with other couples for a fun night, maybe swap at the end of it all. However. I have seen many relationships flourish and not having sex with anyone outside the relationship, with permission or without. She had mentioned in the article that communication is the most important part of an open relationship. while she is 100% correct, it is also vitally important to have GREAT communication in your regular, every day, monogamous relationship. As far as your fear; that is a completely understandable thought process. However, what you have to remember is that men are not hard wired to be cheating, lying, lowly scum bags. However, they are very sexual creatures. But I can promise you; if a man is worth ANYTHING, he will not force you to be in an open relationship. Nor should you let yourself be. As easy as that may sound, it really isn’t. You probably now by now that it is near impossible to please every man you will ever be with, so worrying about it is a stress that you shouldn’t take on! Sexual monogamy is not impossible. It’s just like making a marriage work. If you are not with the right person, it isn’t going to happen. Stay strong, and keep your head up. You should learn from your past, live in and enjoy the present, and be excited for your future, not scared and anxious! It takes a lot to admit that something scares you, and I and couples all around the world appreciate your non-judgmentality. Hope this helped, feel free to message me at the email listed whenever you would like. I am an open book, and have been in and through many relationships of all different kinds. I wish you luck in the search for that special someone. 🙂
De December 7, 2012, 7:53 pm
is it possible for both persona in a relatioship be open but not comfortable being poly. but ok with her partner to be poly?
AKchic January 20, 2012, 12:20 pm
Very great detailing of things here. When people come to me and tell me they are considering an open relationship, they ask me for my advice on the matter. I tell them that the first thing they need to consider is just how jealous they (the couple) can get. If there is any jealousy in the relationship, or any chance of jealousy, then it probably won’t work. It’s not something for a jealous-type or possessive person.
Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 12:39 pm
Just reading the headlines, those 5 rules are good rules to follow for monogamous relationships too! (As an aside, am I the only person who has to sound out “mo-nog-a-mous” as I spell it or else it will look like this “mngagamousamsa”?)
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 12:46 pm
YES! I finally have a good reason to repeat this. I saw this somewhere (no clue):
guy offers girl a piece of gum. trident maybe.
her response: no thanks, I only chew bubble yum. i guess you could say i’m monoGUMous.
oppositeofzen January 20, 2012, 1:47 pm
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 2:03 pm
Now if I could just get people to offer me gum so I could use the word myself…
Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 2:53 pm
Good one. I have a coworker who is always cracking jokes like that. I can’t wait to use it on him.
AKchic January 20, 2012, 2:19 pm
Speaking of GUM – has anyone tried those new flavors of Extra yet? The Apple Pie type stuff? I’m hesitant to try them, mainly because I think they’ll taste funny rather than good. I do not want to waste money that could be spent on decent gum (spearmint baby!) and find that I bought total garbage and need to toss out a pack of gum and waste money.
Jubietta January 20, 2012, 2:30 pm
Love them all. Chocolate mint is the best!
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 2:33 pm
My daughter loves the apple pie and the mint choc. chip. She had me try it, and it surprisingly was good. I felt like I was in Willy Wonka with the meal gum. Remember that?
AKchic January 20, 2012, 3:00 pm
I remember the movie, but never tried the meal gum myself 🙂
Something More January 20, 2012, 3:00 pm
Violet!! You’re turning violet, Violet!!
ForeverYoung January 20, 2012, 3:25 pm
Oh my gosh I wanted to try that gum so badly when I was little! A piece of gum that lets you taste salad, then mashed potatoes, then roast beef, and then dessert (speaking of spelling is it desert or dessert? I remember there was some weird way to remember the difference but I don’t remember what the saying was – ironic isn’t it?). Now the whole idea kinda sounds gross though.
LadyinPurpleNotRed January 20, 2012, 3:27 pm
desserts (when plural) spells stressed backwards…so when you are stressed you have desserts (glad my elementary school was teaching eating when stressed, but it works)
lets_be_honest January 20, 2012, 3:36 pm
You want more dessert always, so it has 2 s’s
AKchic January 20, 2012, 3:44 pm
In the desert, you are short on dessert.
meg January 20, 2012, 7:40 pm
s-s, sweet and salty
JK January 20, 2012, 1:11 pm
I always have to do that with longish words, esp. with my tendency to type faster than I can think.
Meredith January 20, 2012, 2:57 pm
I think it’s great that people are talking about this more. IMO, it’s a matter of being very secure in your primary relationship and, as AKChic stated, having the ability to not be jealous. This is not for everyone, but there are definitely some perks if you are able to do it. Some are obvious (woo sexytimes! lol), but I’ve found that the understanding that we can be attracted to other people and act on that attraction, without jeopardizing the relationship that is most important to us, is very freeing.
fast eddie January 20, 2012, 3:18 pm
In the 70s open marriage was in vogue. I knew several couples that were practicing that life style for extended periods. Nearly all of them became divorced and the rest went back to mono. At one time I was involved with 2 women and everybody knew what was going on. I felt torn and drained. That ended with us all going our own way. Wouldn’t do it again, it was just took too much energy.
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 20, 2012, 3:19 pm
As usual, an awesome, frank, and pragmatic post from Eddie. Thank you!
fast eddie January 20, 2012, 7:43 pm
Your too kind Jess. (hug)
John Rohan January 20, 2012, 9:02 pm
This is not something I’ve ever tried, but I do know several people who have considered it and/or done it. They all seem to have the same thing in common:
1. Those who considered it but didn’t, it was because the woman was worried the man would enjoy it too much.
2. Those who actually did it, the man was the one who was less happy, because he claimed the woman was having more fun with it than him.
These were just my own unscientific observations.
jess of citygirlsworld.com January 21, 2012, 11:14 am
That’s a valuable insight John. Thanks for sharing.
John Rohan January 20, 2012, 9:16 pm
BTW, I should mention something else. For people in sensitive government jobs – forget an open relationship.
I am in the military, btw, and I once had a Brigade commander (a Colonel) who was relieved of his command because he and his wife were swingers. I thought that was incredibly unfair – but military regulations give a list of “deviant” behaviors that can lead to revoking a person’s security clearance, and swinging is still on the list.
katie January 20, 2012, 9:54 pm
honestly, coming from a country who just recently said it was ok so even acknowledge that your gay, that doesnt surprise me.
the military cares WAY to much about people’s personal lives. i kind of get it in some/certain situations, -in a very sensitive government job, like you said- but other then that i just dont get it.
zombeyonce January 21, 2012, 2:44 pm
As someone in a loving and incredibly satisfying open relationship, I want to weigh in here.
I’ve been with my partner for 2 years and we’ve been open for most of the relationship. Neither one of us had been in an open relationship before this. It’s too bad that the article only presented negative reasons for couples being in open relationships, because there can easily be positive reasons as well.
We are not bored, unsatisfied, or especially kinky, we just both understand that some people (like the two of us) like to be able to have sexual relationships with more than one person and really enjoy the freedom of worrying about having crushes on other people and “what that means!” in the context of your relationship with your primary partner. From my experience, crushes often quickly lose their luster when you’re allowed to make out with the object of it.
One of the best things about my relationship with my fiance is that we would still be with each other and be happy, satisfied, and loving even if we decided to return to monogamy. Being open is just icing on the cake of our amazing relationship. And being open has made our communication stellar as well as got us to really be honest about what we each want from the relationship. It’s only been beneficial.
Plus, it’s fun to make out with cute boys/girls that you meet.
Alex January 22, 2012, 7:38 am
Because I am currently overseas working on getting my masters, (and soon, my PhD,) my boyfriend of 6 years and I are in a sort-of open relationship. (If anyone has a better term for what I’m in, please let me know!) The level of trust you have to have to embark on one of these (to combat the fear, honestly) is HUGE, however. To me, THE OPENNESS AND TRUST AND LACK OF LIES IS WHAT SEPARATES OPEN-RELATIONSHIP TERRITORY FROM CHEATING.
I’m not interested in other men, (and schoolwork and time with the Boy takes up all of my time anyway,) but our simple rules are:
-No obfuscating about any interactions with another ladyfriend (including sexting)
-No posting on craigslist/ bringing home another girl without asking me for permission first
-No protracted romancing relationships
It is also implied that when I’m around, we go back to being more monogamish. The boy has talked about how he can’t wait for me to be back so we can get a condo (instead of our dinky 1-BR) and a dog and be proper blissful again, and he’s very into honesty, so I’m hoping that it all works out (we’ve been trying this since October). However, I can’t deny that I wish I could fulfill all his wants and needs, and I get nervous that I don’t. I’m only home every 3 months, though, for a short period of time, so that’s why I’m allowing him to get his kicks elsewhere, if he needs. Thoughts?
Emma January 23, 2012, 11:26 am
My fiance and I actually opened our relationship up more recently. He’s far more sexual than I am (I’m happy having sex once a week, while he wants it about 4 or 5 days out of the week). So, we agreed that he wouldn’t push me about it (which was what was really wearing on the relationship) and he could have three or four extra-relationship galavants a month. He extended the same courtesy to me (with a females only stipulation that I am fine with, and keeps him from feeling like he’s not satisfying me) and we’re still going to have sex together with other people. I haven’t taken advantage of the new rules, but I haven’t felt the need. He’s enjoying himself, though, haha. Found a nice couple he’s seen a few times.
I think we’ve been a lot happier the last month, since these rules were established. Of course, they aren’t for everyone. And of course, all sex outside the relationship is safe.
CommenterfromTX February 3, 2012, 7:28 am
I thought this book can add some insight.
Luckytwo December 21, 2013, 4:38 pm
My wife and I have been together for 17yrs and married 10yrs. We are both in love with each other and have talked about swinging and open relationships for many years…how my wife thought of it was that she felt that she would have to know the person to feel comfortable first. This however lead to an affair which came out in the wash (the other fell in love with her…but I can’t blame the guy) but my wife knew that it was nothing more than an experience and that I was still the man for her and that she now knew that she could have just sex with another man and not feel attached. It was a shock to me at first and I questioned myself if on the effect that where our previous conservations over the years would take us. She knows that it wasn’t the right way to go about it and risked everything, but needed to find if she could go through with if the opportunity ever was raised. It really emphasis some internal issues that we both discussed in depth and over came.
We have moved on from this lesson having learnt that we are both ready to further our inhibitions. Love is a crazy/beautiful thing, and love is being OPEN with each other. We are looking forward in our brighter future 😉 Please feel free to comment.
Human March 20, 2014, 11:45 pm
Just make sure you’re not dealing with a narcissist who is trying to convince you of something that your instinct rejects. Be honest with yourself and make the choice that is true to your own personal values. Whatever you decide, make sure you are not being manipulated, as the study below suggests may happen.
“Why do narcissists adopt a game-playing stance toward love? Game playing is an ideal strategy for an individual who (a) has an inflated view of himself or herself, (b) is less interested in his or her partner’s needs, (c) strives to maintain his or her own esteem, status, and opportunities for extradyadic sexual contact while avoiding excessive emotional intimacy, and (d) has a confident, outgoing, and extraverted personality. Game playing allows the narcissist to stay in a relationship with the concomitant benefits (e.g., sex, attention, status) but still have the freedom and power to initiate another relationship or garner attention from other potential dating partners. Indeed, narcissists’ reported game playing in re- lationships is mediated by their desire for power and autonomy in the relationship (Study 2). Furthermore, narcissists’ game playing is linked to more perceived alternative dating partners and greater attention to alternative dating partners (Studies 3 and 4). Finally, game playing is associated negatively with relationship commit- ment. Game playing is not a good approach to use if one wants a lasting dating relationship (Study 3).”