Does Open Marriage Actually Work? Well…

Open Marriage Can Work

This article made my eyes bleed.

In it, Michael Sonmore, a married man and a stay-at-home-husband, wrestles publicly with what it’s like to be in an “open marriage.”

His half-hearted conclusion: he really wants to be cool with it and to claim he’s a feminist who doesn’t control his wife’s sexuality, but, boy, is he struggling.

Open marriage is like communism. It makes a lot more sense in theory than in practice.

“For my wife, the choice between honoring our vows and fulfilling her desires was a false choice, another trap. She knew how deep our love was, and knew that her wanting a variety of sexual experiences as we traveled through life together would not diminish or disrupt that love. It took me about six months — many long, intense conversations, and an ocean of red wine — before I knew it, too.

When my wife told me she wanted to open our marriage and take other lovers, she wasn’t rejecting me, she was embracing herself. When I understood that, I finally became a feminist.”

Hoo boy.

I don’t think I have the patience to unpack all of the convoluted messages in Sonmore’s message, but I will say this:

Open marriage is like communism. It makes a lot more sense in theory than in practice.

I think it’s great that his wife is honest about her desires to be with other men.

I think it’s great that Sonmore didn’t judge her and was willing to discuss something that can be potentially destructive.

I even think it’s great that they decided to give it a chance – to say, “To hell with convention! It’s just sex! Our love runs deeper! This shouldn’t effect anything!”

Because, really, if you can pull off a happy, healthy marriage and STILL scratch that itch that desires other people, you’re the big winner.

Problem is that Sonmore doesn’t sound all that happy with this compromise.

“There are of course moments of jealousy, resentment, and insecurity. Recently, my wife went on a date and fell asleep at his apartment. I hadn’t heard from her since 10 p.m., she still wasn’t home at 6 a.m. My texts went unanswered and my calls went to voicemail. A tight knot of dread lodged in my stomach as I imagined all kinds of dire scenarios and realized that I not only didn’t know where she was, I had no idea whom she was with. I pictured myself going to the police saying, “I think she’s in Red Hook with a guy named Ryan. I don’t know his last name, but I think he’s a graphic designer?”

Or, “I don’t want her to fall in love with anyone else, and every time she goes on a date, I confront the possibility that she might. It happened at the beginning: The first person she dated after we opened up fell hard in love with her, and my wife, overwhelmed by his ardor, tried to love him back. Watching it happen, I was confused, angry, and terrified that she wanted to leave me. She assured me she didn’t, and whatever feelings she had for him didn’t lessen what she felt for me.”

Or, “As I write this, my children are asleep in their room, Loretta Lynn is on the stereo, and my wife is out on a date with a man named Paulo. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.”

If your marriage isn’t making you happy, what exactly is the point?

I’m a feminist, too. I believe in full equality and that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The issue I have with open marriage – specifically this man’s choice to participate in one – is not a moral one. It’s a practical one:

He doesn’t sound happy.

And if your marriage isn’t making you happy, what exactly is the point?

In other words, the author sounds more like a cuckold who is trying to convince himself that his open marriage is working than a guy who has really embraced open marriage.

Do you know of any successful long-term open marriages? Do you know how they survive emotionally when their partner is out on a “date”? Because, as much as I can rationally separate sex from emotion, I can’t bear the thought of my wife fucking Paulo for the fourth time this month, while I’m at home bathing the kids before bed.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    LC2

    Personally I don’t get the whole open marriage thing at all.  I do know one couple in an open married and many married couples that engage in swinging however and I cannot grasp that idea either.  I guess if you love, respect and trust your partner have at it.  The first relationship after my divorce I fell madly in love with the “perfect man for me”.  After almost a year, the perfection started to waiver into that territory..and also the lies and scrambled eggs talk started.  I said no thank you to that lifestyle (swinging) as I could not trust him and I couldn’t imagine what he would eventually try to convince me to do (with other men/women) so he could get off.  Not a chance.  I broke it off and after a year or so (of him trying to get me back)  found out he had narcissitic personality disorder.  Projection, lies and unsatiable sexual appetite.   He eventually  found a desperate woman who liked the “lifestyle” and doesn’t mind his lying, controlling and manipulation.   I just think people that engage in this behavior have deep underlying issues.  Perhaps low self esteem, narcisissim.  If I want to sleep around, I’ll just stay single…it causes a lot less drama : )

    1. 1.1
      Karmic Equation

      “If I want to sleep around, I’ll just stay single…it causes a lot less drama 🙂 “

      Exactly LC2.

      She should get a divorce if she wants to sleep around. Don’t STAY married if she enjoys “dating” other men so much. Have the balls to get divorced and be single. Have an open relationship with a guy who ALSO sleeps around. Not take advantage of this misguided male.

      I believe in female empowerment, though not in feminism.

      I do believe this, as Sonmore writes:

      “We <men> aren’t afraid of their <women’s> intellect or their spirit or their ability to bear children. We are afraid that when it comes time for sex, they won’t choose us. This petty fear has led us as a culture to place judgments on the entire spectrum of female sexual expression: If a woman likes sex, she’s a whore and a slut; if she only likes sex with her husband or boyfriend, she’s boring and lame; if she doesn’t like sex at all, she’s frigid and unfeeling. Every option is a trap. “

      However, having an open marriage and accepting that his wife is fucking others does not equate to embracing feminism, imo.

      1. 1.1.1
        Not Jerry

        That article made my eyes bleed too.  Gee whiz.

        Karmic, you are exactly right. They should either decide to be married or single. One foot out the door. I’d take that for exactly 15 seconds.

        “Am I supposed to be with only one man, for the rest of my life?”
        “Yes, it’s called marriage.”

        An immortal line from the movie Cocktail, with Tom Cruz.

    2. 1.2
      jon

      LC2, there are just a lot of men with high sex drives and can’t commit to one woman, especially if they are a handsome alpha male with a lot of other women throwing themselves at him. A man can choose to be monogamous, but there are also a lot of mature men who are tired of running around and want one woman.  Other men may be bored with their wives after decades together and want to experience other women.  Some men can control their sexual urges while others cannot.  There are several dynamics at play in every relationship – money, power, better-looking, more options, boredom, and sexual urges.  In most cases, women have lowered sex drives especially after giving birth, and there are many married couples that don’t have sex due to busy lives, so the husband fools around without telling the wife or perhaps the wife doesn’t want to know as long as the husband is happy.  Usually a wife can stay in the marriage due to money.  Obviously, there can be a role-reversal if an alpha wife makes more money and wants other sexual partners.  Usually a woman will seek out other men to obtain more security (not just sex) and her husband is not making her feel secure enough.  Women seem to want more long-term emotional relationships, while men can have many short-term sexual relationships.  I think it depends on what each person wants, whether they can fulfill it within that marriage, or whether they are seeking to fulfill that missing need outside of the marriage.  Women seem more concerned about limiting their number of sexual partners, while men want to increase the number of sexual partners.  Open marriages might work best if they don’t share the details of other dates, which causes less stress.

      1. 1.2.1
        LC2

        Jon, I understand all the factors that go into leading a couple into an open marriage as I know several couples that have one…  Mostly the alpha males with alot of $$ and wife equally attractive. They both have many dating options and rather than tear apart their family (3 young children and multimillion $ business) they are allowed to date others. Im not sure of the rules they have but I believe their has to be some guidelines so it is fair to each partner.

        I was married 20 yrs and ex bf married 26 yrs so we had many discussions about monogamy and funny he was the one who initiated a monogamous relationship after 1 month of dating. I realize it was probably to not scare me away : ). i did propose an open relationship and he shot it down because his objective was to control who I was with. And be there to watch.

        Anyway I love reading Evans advice. Knowledge is power : )

  2. 2
    Karmic Equation

    I believe when one has an open marriage, BOTH partners are supposed to be dating.

    If one is dating and the other one is parenting, that’s really not an open marriage.

    And that is the one thing this article leaves out: Is Sonmore dating also? Fucking other women? Or is he the “just” the dutiful husband? Additionally, is wifey hot and he’s not? To some extent that would explain why he would “put” up with this open marriage. Because if she wasn’t his wife, then he’d have no one, due to his lack of SMV.

    Finally, I’d agree, Evan. He doesn’t sound happy. He deserves more, if that is what he wants. However, the problem is, can he get “any” if he were alone. And for him is it better getting “some” from his wife than “nothing” at all?

    Perhaps for the low-SMV male, that is their tradeoff. Marriage to hot chick to fucks others as well as him, but “loves” him. Or resign himself to hookers or porn.

    As a woman, I truly question how “deep” the wife’s love is. Because I think if she really does love him, she should offer him the option of NSA divorce and generous custodial rights, so that she can fuck whomever she wants without taking advantage of some beta guy, who thinks he can’t do better.

    1. 2.1
      Adam

      Karmic Equation:

      More wise words from a wise woman. The article doesn’t mention whether or not Sonmore is dating, but I am going to give you a HUGE generalization. Women, have an EXTREMELY easy time getting a guy for a casual relationship that includes sex, which is what Sonmore’s wife is looking for. Even if she is fat and ugly, she will have tons and tons of guys lined up to engage in such a relationship with her — some guys don’t have any standards at all. The only kind of guys that receive the level of female attention that your above average woman gets from guys on a daily basis are the young and really rich guys. In other words, the average woman who is pretty, but not a model, may get 5 or 10 guys approaching her a day. A very handsome man, may have 5 girls interested in him in a week if he is lucky.

       

      And your analysis regarding the trade off with the low SMV guy is completely correct. Couldn’t agree with you more. I have seen this time and time in my life. I know a couple where this is the case to a T. They “love” each other. She is clearly the more attractive one in the relationship, very beautiful and sexy. She works as a stripper and has for several years. Now granted, there are areas of the country where strippers simply strip on a stage and that is that. But in California, where I am from, this isn’t the case and hasn’t been the case for a very, very long time. So while she is not a prostitute, she is certainly going to at least to third base with any guy who pays her enough and he tolerates this. So he is in a relationship with a girl, that any guy can take to the VIP room and engage in all kinds of dirty behavior with. I could literally go to the club she works at and have my hands up her skirt and fondling her within minutes of walking in the door. And THAT is his girlfriend.
      I doubt the girl truly loves her boyfriend and I doubt the wife in this story, truly loves her husband. And yes, he is being taken advantage of.

       

      If it were a choice that I had to make between having a wife like this and having sex with an endless stream of sugar babies, escorts, strippers and other women of the night, I would chose the later, because at least I would know the relationship was fake.

       

  3. 3
    Grenoble

    This guy sounds like he has no backbone.

    I’m not one to judge people’s choices, but I would never in a million years be okay with an open marriage. It sort of defeats the purpose of marriage to me, which is to commit two people to each other for the creation of a family unit whether that entails children or not.

    If my future wife came to me and said she wanted to sleep with others guys, I ‘d say, if you want to sleep with other guys, you can sleep with them all you want, but we won’t be together if you do.

    Sounds like she got bored and stayed around for the kids they had. She probably doesn’t even love or respect him anymore, no matter how “deep” he believes their love to be.

    He even admits to his wife trying to fall in love with other guys. He’s afraid it’ll happen, and since kissing  and sex send out bonding chemicals, it’s almost inevitable. He’s on a speeding train that’s about to go off the rails.

    It’s happened to me. I’ve been with women who thought I made the Earth go ’round, only for her to kiss another guy and it’s like I don’t exist anymore.

    If he allows this to go on, I think he’ll end up a shell of a man, moreso than he probably is right now.

    1. 3.1
      Grenoble

      And as some other comments on the article have said, I bet if he were to go out often and tell her about all the women he was having sex with or falling in love with, she wouldn’t like the idea of open marriage as much.

      I don’t know how old their children are (he mentions diaper bags, so they’re probably infants), but I doubt this is a suitable parenting environment. They’ll probably grow up to think promiscuity and infidelity are normal unless he or she can hide this from them.

  4. 4
    In Not Of

    Y’know, it’s one thing to do this if there are no kids, but for pity’s sake what kind of example does this set for them? How much therapy will they need because of an absentee mother? Better yet, why have an open marriage at all? Just stay single and hook up.

  5. 5
    Rebecca

    I don’t really understand WHY I’m cool with my friends having other friends but I wouldn’t want my lover to have other lovers.  But I definitely feel that way.  I couldn’t be Sonmore’s wife and I couldn’t be married to his wife.  I’m not a particularly traditional person, and I am enticed by the argument that I shouldn’t want to control my partner’s sexuality, but I guess I never thought of asking by husband to express that sexuality with me alone was that terribly controlling.  At least no more than my trying to control his emotions by asking him to commit to love and prioritize me for the rest of his life.  Happily, this is an issue I don’t actually have to reconcile; folks who want to experiment with open marriage can do their thing while I go on being “boring and lame” and wanting sex only with my boyfriend.  (I never even knew there was a stigma against that!)

  6. 6
    jules

    As one who has read Evan’s blog for years, this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to comment. i’m marrying my partner of 5 years in a month. I read Sonmores article, and immediately imagine myself in that situation. To me one of the reasons for wanting to be married is that i am 100% ready to make a lifelong commitment to my partner, and a huge part of the commitment is that i cannot be selfish, i must be ready to put the needs and wants of my partner on the same level and often ahead of my own own. Why? Because he does the same for me. To put him in the position of Sonmore, to spend 6 months making him accept something that in my heart I know he would never choose by himself, I’d never want to look at myself in the mirror again. i don’t understand how can you do that to someone you love. To me when i marry i willingly give up the options of other partners, and my husband does the same. Our bond is greatly dependent on the fact that we promise to be faithful. Of course we’ll find other people attractive at times, but we’ll never act on it. That’s why we choose to get married. I see that the open marriage idea could work for some people, but i am somewhat cynical that both partners in an open marriage are equally happy with it.

  7. 7
    Michelle

    No. No. And no.

  8. 8
    Sabine

    I think his wife is selfish.  And, I think he can’t wrap his head around around how selfish she really is. She tells him about tge other men? Disgusting! At this point, he’s her live-in nanny with benefits.  He is too good for her and needs to leave her with the kids as one day, they will wonder why Dad didn’t respect himself more.  My ex had lots of girlfriends on the side and would take them out on Saturday nights after “church”. I loved myself enough to move on and this nice, loving father should do the same.

  9. 9
    Marie

    Poor guy, he sounds lonely, wistful, and sad, desperately grasping at any argument to make it seem like he is okay with what is happening so that he can hold onto whatever scrap of this woman he can get. He is settling for crumbs.  If this is so wonderful, if this is what he really wants, would he be having this tortured soul-searching?  I think not.

  10. 10
    Christine

    I’ll be curious to see if anyone will go against the grain and defend her.  However, that person won’t be me.  With spouses like these, who needs enemies?  On one hand, she said she’s not rejecting him.  But it sounds to me like she’s doing just that by saying that he alone isn’t enough to satisfy her.

    The part that got to me the most was her twisting the knife in even further by telling him all about it.  Why couldn’t she just slip quietly back into the house afterwards, without also rubbing it in his face that she had such a hot time with another man?  I don’t think this is just about sex, but also about trying to hurt him as much as possible.  Given the confusion and sadness I hear in the rest of the article, I just don’t believe him that he really finds it so “hot”.

    I wish he’d stop putting up with this.  I say he should just leave with the kids one day and leave a note that “now you can have all the free time with Paulo you want!”

  11. 11
    Skaramouche

    What a load of crock!  I’m trying SO hard to be open about this and tell myself that different things work for different people and that I should reserve judgement but I can’t.  Open marriage is fabulous in theory but honestly, I don’t see the point.  It’s an oxymoron.  I think it’s possible that there are people for whom open marriages actually work but I’m sure the percentage is minuscule and that the people in question are wired differently than the rest of us; to them marriage means something different.  This poor guy and his wife definitely don’t count in that number.

    The whole point of marriage is to have that one person with whom you will (hopefully) feel safe and grow old; this person is your family.  You give up the variety of sleeping with others for the deep emotional connection you make with your spouse that you aren’t supposed to have with anyone else.  How the heck can you feel safe if you don’t know when your spouse is going to fall in love again and you’re going to be old news?

  12. 12
    Michelle

    I had to laugh at Evan’s comparison to communism because that’s what I’ve always said! I know there are all kinds of ways to live a life and I’m not here to judge, but I really don’t get the “marriage” part of open marriage. I don’t understand why married people would stay married and basically do the opposite of what your marriage vows dictate. If you take marriage vows, either stick to them, or break up and f*** whoever you want – who is going to stop you?

    My friend was in an open relationship which was supposedly “making it stronger” but it was plainly a last-ditch attempt to revive a dying attraction, and *he* was the one doing all of the dating and his partner was clearly jealous and unhappy. The relationship imploded of course, but he still denounces monogamy as unnatural…go figure. I’m sure if his new girlfriend was sleeping with several other guys he would change his tune pretty quick.

    If you start out monogamous and it stops working, it’s the cracks in your relationship, not that you just never considered this great phenomenon of f***ing other people and everything will be hunky dory.

    I’ve been approached by guys in “open relationships” (with kids even!!!) and I’ve always told them to get lost. It smacks of cowardice and is an insult to all the couples out there working to have solid relationships. Wait, I said I wasn’t going to judge…haha!

     

  13. 13
    SparklingEmerald

    I read the full article and it sounds fake.  Like the fake articles they run at thought catalogue, but somewhere buried in TC, they admit the articles are fake, as food for thought.

    This article sounds contrived to whip up the MGTOW and their kind by portraying femnists and women in a bad light.

    I call BS.

    I know that there are people who dabble in Open Marriage, sometimes at the hubby’s suggestion, sometimes at the wifes, but this article just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    1. 13.1
      Chaka

      I’m glad to see I am not alone in believing it to be contrived.

    2. 13.2
      Henriette

      I agree, @Sparkling.  Whether it’s written by a MGTOW guy or just a freelancer in need of a few bucks, this article is faaaaaaaake.

    3. 13.3
      Experiment

      My husband and I just went through this, with him being the driving force. I can totally relate to this man and what he went through. Even if it is a fake, he nailed.

  14. 14
    It's you

    I’m curious whether anyone has (or knows anyone who has) “opened” their marriage or relationship for a one-time thing, like a threesome or swinging with another couple, but mutually agreed to not have an ongoing open relationship. I’ve heard of people doing that with different results. To me, I think what I would feel is, ok I’ve basically just told him that he can have sex with someone else and I won’t walk, so what’s to stop him from doing it again without my knowledge? It’s like giving him a pass you can’t take back.

    1. 14.1
      cara

      I have not- but I have been asked to be the third part twice (and turned it down). First time, bossy man and a frightened woman- definitely his choice, his needs. Really bad wibes. She acted like an abused woman. Second time, young successful guy asking me out and telling me over dinner he was already taken XD trying to convince me for weeks afterwards… I think that relationship was more equal, as he really needed to get me into the equation and not tried anything on his own… but… I’d say that historically or nowadays, it always seems like one of the spouses wants this and the other one is too dependant (from love, money or both) to dare to deny, so to save some dignity they kind of pretend it is by their own will (not including the cuckolds who get off from the idea here).

  15. 15
    Morgan Hill

    This Michael Sonmore dude is indeed a cuckold. He is weak and pathetic, and his wife has all the power in the marriage. His rationalization of himself being a feminist is nothing but his self consolation. I can almost feel sorry for him, but like in any abusive relationship, he is treated in ways he allows and enables.  

  16. 16
    JB

    The whole thing about “open” relationships/marriage is that 99% of the time women will have the advantage as to the number of “options” they have outside the relationship. The average guy has no chance compared to the average woman. So unless a man is very high status/high income and looks like a soap opera star it’s not a level playing field. For the exact same reason that a woman on an online dating site has an inbox with 300 responses and a guy has an inbox with 3. So why would any average guy attempt to make this work and think he’d be able live with the ramifications/consequences.

    1. 16.1
      Chance

      I was generally thinking the same thing.  A man obtaining sex is like hitting a three-pointer while a woman obtaining sex is like an uncontested lay-up.

    2. 16.2
      Karmic Equation

      I would agree that, in theory, women would have the advantage in open relationships.

      But, as this blog has shown, most women prefer monogamy, so, very likely if there is an “open marriage” often it’s because the woman agrees to the man’s request to have one.

      Personally, as a woman who’s never had an issue with NSA sex, open relationships never appealed to me. In fact, I told the one guy who was in an open relationship, after I had slept with him, that I’m not a fan of dating someone who was in one. If he wanted to continue an NSA relationship with me, he had to be a free agent. (I believe I analogized “open relationships” to “back room deals”.) And he complied. He didn’t call again me until he was out of his open relationship.

      Now that I’m in a relationship, I have no desire to sleep around nor do I want my bf to sleep around. If either he or I wanted to sleep around, we’re both better off single.

    3. 16.3
      popee

      To 99% of women, men who are into “open relationships” are worthless. Which brings me the question, why are dating websites INUNDATED with men in “open relationships”? I didn’t know this was that common until I started getting messages from these dudes. I don’t respond, or just say perhaps an escort might be a better option? If you can’t give commitment to a woman, you can’t give her ANYTHING. You literally have nothing to offer.

      I mean women are looking for relationships and sex is part of that package but there is no advantage to getting casual sex from men who are already in relationships. That is literally a total waste of time.

      1. 16.3.1
        Karmic Equation

        Actually, women in open relationships dating men in open relationships would probably work 🙂

        But most single women aren’t in favor of dating men in open relationships.

        However, I’m pretty certain most men would LOVE to date women in open relationships. Sex without relationship? Where do they sign up, right?

        But we go back to most women prefer monogamy over open relationships.

    4. 16.4
      Adam

      Completely agree JB. Totally agree.

       

      Women have a MASSIVE advantage when it comes to this area. Even fat and ugly women get FAR more attention from the opposite sex than average looking guys.

       

      That is why an open marriage is such a crappy idea.

  17. 17
    Joe

    Brah needs to call a lawyer and go get his balls out of his wife’s safe deposit box.

  18. 18
    Fiona

    Open marriages work for some people and not for others. There is a certain feminist sex positivity line of thinking needed to acknowledge that other people’s consensual sexual relationships are all cool. I could even see the argument that a guy is feminist because he approves of an open relationship where the woman is the one sleeping around/doesn’t just assume open marriages are because men need to “sow their wild oats.”

    BUT this isn’t a feminist issue, and it’s silly the writer is making it one. He is in an open marriage. That isn’t feminist or not feminist. It’s what it is. If he likes his open marriage (questionable), that’s great, but it’s not because he’s a feminist.

  19. 19
    Sophie

    That communism analogy really resonated.  Great point.

  20. 20
    Lisa

    To be fair to the writer, unless you read his entire article, you can’t see the full context here–Evan shared portions which focus on moments of insecurity and left out the parts where the author celebrates a mutual choice to pursue this type of relationship and explains how they make this all work–e.g. they take turns going out/babysitting and that the husband enjoys the same “sexual carte blanche”.  He concludes it all requires a great deal of vulnerability, communication and work, but it feels right for them.

    I agree with Evan and Fiona that the “feminist” argument feels a bit forced & silly as a way of explaining coming to terms with and accommodating one’s partner wishing to experiment with others–plenty of couples of ALL genders have had to navigate this same territory (and I’m not EVEN going to go into how tortured his definition of feminism is).  Does he have conflicting feelings about aspects of this arrangement? Sure.  He also expresses very conflicted feelings about being a stay at home dad (and again, his discussion of this in relation to “feminism” is just as convoluted). Seems to me a far more straightforward explanation is to say that both the open marriage and staying at home with his children are judged by society as “untraditional” and produce some personal angst, but ultimately this is what he and his wife have decided best meets their needs as a couple and a family.

    I’d point out that one only has to look as far as the Ashley Madison debacle to see how personally challenging monogamy is for a huge number of people.  And I’d suggest reading Dan Savage to anyone who wants a non-judgmental, ethical, realistic (and hilarious) take on the challenges/benefits of open relationships (or any aspect of human sexual experience, for that matter).  He uses the term “monogamish” to describe the endless variations of how committed couples introduce various others into their relationships: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=11412386  

      1. 20.1.1
        Gabri'el

        Evan I just read the blog you posted about Savage’s point of view. In the comments section # 30 you referenced a study that said that women prefer variety within a committed relationship.

        Could you explain what it means and give an example of women wanting variety in a committed relationship? Isn’t this woman doing what the study said, wanting variety, or did I misunderstand… again. (^_^)

        Maybe his wife was honest up front about what she as a human naturally wanted (variety of partners sexually) and the man lied to her saying he could handle it. As you said many times, a partner wanting to sleep with other people is natural for humans, but going 30+ years with the same partner is not natural for men or women.

        Which is why I always got the impression that you taught us to understand this basic human need and not get jealous or feel insecure if a partner looks at other men/women, as long as they remained faithful. Evan you want us to appreciate the men and women who go against their nature and stay faithful, especially if that partner has a high sexual market value,  but they choose to not cheat on us even though they can clearly get another and even a better looking woman/man.

      2. 20.1.2
        Karmic Equation

        Not sure where I read it, Gabri’el, but it goes something like this.

        Men want variety of PARTNERS while women want variety with POSITIONS (with the same partner).

        As in men would be happy doing missionary with a different woman every day of the week, while women would want to vary positions with the same guy every day of the week.

        1. Gabri'el

          Thank you Karmic!

    1. 20.2
      Skaramouche

      Fair point.  I read the whole article and I see what you mean.  Evan only quoted the worst parts.  BUT, my opinion hasn’t changed.  If anything, it has been ratified.  This is a man who is trying hard to be okay with his wife’s new lifestyle.  But from everything I read, he’s really not.  Anything can be called a “journey” and justified.  He’s the male version of a poor housewife whose husband suddenly changes the rules of engagement and leaves her scrambling to catch up.  He has sexual carte blanche but doesn’t exercise it in the same way that she does.  He is sometimes worried that his wife will fall in love with someone else.  He has to listen while his wife recounts her sexual adventures with men that are not him.  Eeargh…why?
       
      My opinion would be different if he was actually into this lifestyle rather than just pretending to be.  His choices?  Submit to the “open marriage”, lose his wife entirely or stay in a marriage when he knows she’s cheating (because inevitably, that’s what will happen).  Kudos to the wife for being honest about her changing sexual needs but rather than offering him a way out and having HIM insist he wanted to stay, she sweet talked him into the arrangement over wine.  Now she has a male nanny who’s there for the cuddles while she retains her sexual freedom and also has a “girlfriend” with whom to discuss sexual exploits once she’s home.

  21. 21
    Katt

    This type of relationship doesn’t work out in the long run. His wife might be having a great time at the moment but the chances are she or he,  as they are both having it away with others, might just find another partner if they are going out all the time and having sex with other people. It’s bound to happen sooner or later! The law of attraction.

    Unfortunately it will end in tears, mostly their children who will end up the biggest losers in all this if it goes on for years as sooner or later they will find out when they get older, guaranteed. Kids notice everything. They don’t have a choice like their stupid self indulgent parents.

    One big takeaway from this is to make sure you have sowed all the wild oats before you settle down and have children.

    1. 21.1
      It's you

      Katt, do you really think people cheat or swing because they didn’t sow enough wild oats before getting married? No offense but I think that’s kind of naive.

      I’m no expert but it seems it is just not something that works for everyone, and that’s fine. Trouble is you really don’t know if it does or doesn’t until you do it and then it’s too late, and you have to live with whatever the consequences are.

      1. 21.1.1
        Katt

        Naive? Perhaps. I’ve known plenty of girls who went straight from the family home into marriage. They may have had multiple boyfriends before getting married or with the same guy from high school in a lot of cases. The girls (And I am just talking about girls I knew here) in many cases ended up getting divorced after having several children. Mostly they went crazy after the divorce, drinking, partying and sleeping with as many guys as they wanted to. Hey I’m not judging, it was a lot of fun going out on a ‘coyote’ hunt with the girls. Sowing those wild oats they didn’t get a chance to before settling down. The kids suffered though, every one of them. Pulled between two sets of parents & families then other partners who come and go, sleep over … Don’t we know better by now?

        I’m just saying that a more mature mind and getting some life experience under your belt before you get married and have kids in your 20’s probably makes for a better and more stable marriage in your 30’s and beyond. At least you will have a more realistic idea of what you expect in a partner other than superficial qualities that look good at the time.

        It’s a loaded subject but my ten cents worth is to do what you want to do first before you get married and have kids whether that is travel, having sex or whatever. The future is unknown and we never know what is going to happen tomorrow. We do have our free will and we also have CHOICES. Those choices can have effects lasting many years and can affect many people. Choose wisely.

         

        1. It's you

          Katt,

          It’s a dangerous assumption that sowing your wild oats before marriage will make 40-50 years of monogamy easier. It sounds like the assumption of someone who has never been married for any length of time.

          A friend of mine who is going through a divorce right now slept with over 60 men before she got married. And yeah they’re splitting up because of infidelity.

          MRA types love to trout out the stat that the more sexual partners a woman has the more likely she is to be divorced. (TBF the reasons for divorce are not given in the study  but the manosphere loves to claim it’s because “once a slut, always a slut.”)

          I could give examples of men too who weren’t exactly inexperienced before they got married and ended up cheating and/or divorcing.

          I think it’s all a bit more complicated.

  22. 22
    Kitty

    Way back in 1993 Matt Ridley explained in his book “The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature” why humanity’s system of “monogamy plagued by infidelity” endures.  In other words why the vast majority of men and women insist on faithful partners even if they personally want to cheat.

    “The mistake that straight people made,” Savage says, “was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitar­ian and fairsey. And it’s been a disaster for marriage.”

    Is Savage really that dense?  When women can earn enough to support themselves and their kids few will resign themselves to marriage to a chronic cheater.  The notion that men should be sexually faithful in their marriages is necessary to make marriage attractive to women in the modern world.  There’s no one more pathetic than a divorced old sleaze when the good time girls stop taking his calls.  And despite the protests of the MGTOW crowd and similar the notion of being alone in his 60s and beyond only appeals to men who have been married for so long they forget what being single is like.  Or to men in bad marriages or who are just annoyed with their wives.  In real life men don’t want to be old and alone anymore than women do.

    1. 22.1
      Fiona

      That is pretty dense on Savage’s part. Women were historically more faithful because they had less socially acceptable options and faced harsher consequences. There are still stories of women being put to death for committing adultery, whether by the government or by vigilante “justice.”

      The whole idea of marriage being primarily for love is relatively new given the age of the concept. If you are married for political reasons more than love, the faithfulness of your partner matters a whole lot less.

  23. 23
    Karl S

    I know quite a lot of people in the poly community now who seem quite happy and in successful long term open relationships with their partners. I also have a friend going 12 years strong in an open marriage.

    I’ve also been reading about different tribes and cultures who have very, very different relationship structures and views about the roles and traits of men and women. It’s made me less certain about a lot of evolutionary psychology that I used to believe in.

    1. 23.1
      Skaramouche

       
      Karl, I’m genuinely curious about this.  To me, polygamy where one relationship is long term or permanent and the others are transient defies all logic.  However, I’m open to having my opinion changed.  I certainly understand sexual freedom and the desire for it.  But what induces these couples you know to form long term bonds with just one person while experimenting with others?  I guess I don’t see the point of that long term bond and the whole thing just seems unnecessarily dangerous.  If we agree that there are multiple people out there that each one of us is compatible with (emotionally and sexually), it stands to reason that at some point, one partner in these polygamous couples will meet a match as compatible as (or perhaps more compatible than) the current long term one.  That could happen to monogamous couples as well, of course, but the polygamous couples are actively seeking sexual connections, increasing the likelihood.  In the event that one DOES find such a match, why not just jump ship?  It seems like a given.  And if so, why not just stay single and indulge?  Why the stress of a relationship?  Even that I can perhaps see…it’s nice to come home to someone however short term the arrangement will be.  But why marriage.  Why lock everything, legal and emotional in one person when the intention from the get-go is not to be exclusive?  I’m obviously missing something here but I haven’t a clue what it is.

      1. 23.1.1
        Karl S

        I guess the logic is different for each person, but for some in an open marriage the understanding could be that you’ve both found someone you don’t want to let go of and feel very strongly about but you don’t expect them to fulfill everything for you.

        I don’t necessarily believe a person who feels solid and connected to their primary partner would ever ‘jump ship’ unless they felt the relationship was failing internally in some irrecoverable way. The biggest concept to wrap one’s head around is a distinction between a love economy and a time economy. Yes, you can only divide your time so much, so one partner is going to get more time than others, but the idea of falling in love with new partners doesn’t necessitate falling out of love with old partners.

      2. 23.1.2
        Karl S

        Another thing I just thought of based on my discussions with poly folk is that they’re not so unrealistic as to believe they never have to compromise on anything. They simply have a different set of relationship rules that they have to adhere to get their most important needs met. To that end, when  it comes to negotiating multiple partners, they conform to those rules laid out in prior agreement in terms of who gets priority depending on the context of a situation.

  24. 24
    Kitty

    Karl I don’t think that standard evo-psych applies 100% to everyone who’s ever lived on planet Earth.  OTOH how common are people who are genuinely happy living a poly lifestyle compared to people who don’t want to share their spouses?  I’m not sure what tribes you refer to but the number of isolated rural tribes that have institutionalized non-monogamy are a numerical blip in the screen compared to the overwhelming number of cultures which enforce for women at least.  Evo-psych needn’t be 100% universal to make sense for the vast majority of educated Westerners.

  25. 26
    A.

    sounds like a sado-masochistic type of relationship where two poeple with extreme personalities get what they need (not sure if he actually wants it that way but he seems to need it) and not like an open marriage where both can have sex outside their marriage.

  26. 27
    marymary

    Disaster if she gets pregnant.

  27. 28
    Clare

    I have so many things I want to say about this situation. My head feels like it’s going to explode just thinking about them.

     

    But the main one is this – I really, REALLY wish they wouldn’t drag feminism into this mess. What the hell has it got to do with feminism? I can only assume the flimsy link is “women can do anything men can do”, or “if men can cheat, women can too AND make it legitimate to boot.” Kind of makes me want to throw up. Why do women undermine themselves by calling this kind of thing feminism – I will never know. An open marriage/relationship is a personal choice – one a man can make, or a woman can make, or two people make together. For faithfulness to work, in case anyone hadn’t noticed, it takes two people to be committed to it. Both the man and the woman have to be faithful in order for fidelity to have any meaning in a marriage – so I fail to see how allowing the woman to sleep around in a relationship is liberating her sexuality – she’s just being unfaithful, she’s just having sex with other people. That’s the beginning and end of it. The only way I can possibly see how this has a link to feminism is that she’s seeking to legitimise it. In which case I really think this is more about her conscience and seeking personal absolution from her guilt than anything to do with the rights of women.

  28. 29
    Selena

    If  someone doesn’t want to take the “forsaking all others” vow…then why get legally married at all? Status of being married? Some legal perks?

     

    Theoretically I understand monogamy is chafing for many human beings.   Why so many choose the social and religious construct of marriage I don’t get. I sometimes feel that non-monogamous people do this to “work the system” – similar to welfare kings & queens, – rather than they truly feel committed to those they claim to love.

     

    That and  maybe they will be able to get TLC -formerly “The Learning Channel”- interested enough to fund them for a reality show. Ugh all the way around.

     

     

     

     

  29. 30
    LC

    This guy’s wife is very selfish.  All of that time away dating other men when she could be dating her husband and taking care of his needs?  It’s insanity.  He’s just a glorified babysitter.  I’m sure he’d like to be having sex twice a week with her instead of her spreading her legs for other men.  It’s absolutely disgusting.  When you embark on affairs, you’re stealing time from the person who swore to love and cherish you for life.  How is a few moments of sex with a random stranger worth losing everything?

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