How to Open Up Your Relationship

How to Open Up Your Relationship

I’ve thought about open marriage. My wife and I have discussed it over dinner, drinks and pillow talk. I’ve written about it a number of times.

But nothing – and certainly not this article, “How I Made Consensual Non-Monogamy Work,” is going to change my mind.

I have no moral problem with those who put the pursuit of sex as the highest ideal; I’m just not one of them. Sex with others is something I did BEFORE I got married. To do it now would be akin to opening Pandora’s Box, and honestly, I can’t imagine that what I stand to gain (sex) would be greater than what I stand to lose (everything else).

The author of this piece disagrees. He starts by laying out terms.

I have no moral problem with those who put the pursuit of sex as the highest ideal; I’m just not one of them.

“You can be “monogamish,” meaning that you and your partner have agreed that some degree of sexual activity outside of the relationship is okay. There’s “polyamory”—literally, many loves—which means that you and your partner can be romantically and not just physically involved with others. “Swinging” generally means couples consensually exchanging partners for sexual play. There are lots of other ways in which people agree to go about it too. My partner and I initially decided that being monogamish was for us, but a few years later we had secondary and tertiary partners. We were then polyamorists, but of course, that sounds a bit too ‘70s. So we went with “open,” though I feel that in the eleven years since we started down that road, “consensual non-monogamy” is the more up-to-date term.”

See? Simple as that!

I don’t mean to tease because the advice here is probably quite sound. Ex.

“Pressing pause for an agreed-upon length of time and letting the more apprehensive partner become more comfortable is likely going to improve your chances of success should you decide to give it a go. So take your time, sit with your feelings, and use your words. If at the end of the agreed-upon period, you’re still nauseated by the thought of sharing bae, own the fact that that non-monogamy may not be for you.”

It’s true. You should be extremely cautious before you agree to break your wedding vows and you should only break them if BOTH of you are really comfortable with it.

I was going to write more about the six important steps that the author used to make this lifestyle choice work for him, but to me, the existence of such an article is all the proof I need that “open” relationships require WAY too much work for my taste.

I’m always saying that good relationships should be easy.

Given the amount of terminology, patience, moving boundaries, misunderstandings, fears, judgments, overcommunication and inevitable jealousy with “consensual nonmonogamy,” I’m perfectly happy with my vanilla marriage.

All of these swinging options may be viable but they strike me of Icarus flying too close to the sun. More sex with new partners sounds fun in theory; tiring in practice.

Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1

    I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts

  2. 2

    If I never come across another man on a dating site lookingbfor an open relationship, it will be too soon.

    1. 2.1
      Yet Another Guy


      If you do not mind, how old are you?

      1. 2.1.1

        36 and it seems to be all any man is looking for.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          I can see it with men my age (fifties) who were married for a long time, but not men in their thirties. It sounds like they have no desire to grow up.

  3. 3

    I am in full agreement with EMK: sounds great in practice, not my cup of tea.

  4. 4

    I see major problems trying to turn a monogamous relationships into an open one. But if it’s open right from the start, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

    There are countless ways in which people receive sexual pleasure and satisfaction from other people who are not their partners. I really don’t see why all but one way should be acceptable, but that one way ends up being a deal breaker. Never understood that, never will. A stripper can put her naked privates inches away from his face – no problem. But lord forbid he stick his dick in there. He can masturbate to orgasm to some woman putting on a cam show for him. But he can’t have sex with her. He can fantasize about having sex with someone else while his partner provides nothing but the other body. But lord forbid he actually has sex with someone else. Same goes for her. She can pretend he’s someone else while she’s having sex with him, but she can’t actually have sex with someone else (despite the fact that she pretty much IS having sex with someone else, and just using his body). She can get off to watching some guy put on a cam show for her. She can have some other man’s naked dick right in front of her face – as long as it’s in a strip club. But lord forbid she actually has sex with someone else.

    Nope. I don’t get it. The penetration part is just a different form of the same exact thing, so why be in a huff over that, but not anything else?

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      If you can’t tell the difference between fantasy and infidelity, I will not be the one to explain it to you.

    2. 4.2
      Yet Another Guy


      You do know that while most men masturbate, only a small percentage of the male population frequents strip clubs? I am with Evan on this one. There is a huge difference between fantasy and infidelity. If a man or woman desires to have sex with a person other than his/her partner, he/she is with the wrong person. Sadly, it took me over half of a century to figure that one out.

    3. 4.3

      @sylvana, I think your question is a legitimate one. I think it comes down to a fundamental difference in the way men and woman think about sex, relationships and infidelity. For some reason most women think that their significant other having an emotional affair would be far worse than them having a physical affair. Men are very much the opposite. The only reason I would care about my significant other having an emotional affair is that it might lead to a physical affair. I think this is all biological, built into our DNA. I think on a very deep evolutionary level men want to protect against getting fooled into raising a child that they think is their own but is not. Of course with birth control and everything else a child wouldn’t be born if “lord forbid he stick his dick in there”. But that doesn’t prevent that deep feeling that men don’t want other men in there.

      1. 4.3.1


        I never did understand the emotional infidelity issue at all. To me, that’s like saying your partner can’t have a very good friend that they truly feel they can confide in. I can somewhat understand your explanation about the monogamy lines from a man’s point of view. Although I think it’s less about supporting other men’s offspring then being “bested” by the competition. Biologically, if she has sex with another male, she basically decided he’s the better, stronger male who’ll provide better offspring. With other words, a more worthy alpha.

        I do both open and monogamous relationships (or did, now it’s open only). So I guess I’m more baffled by the nuisances of what’s supposedly ok and what is not (since I don’t have an issue with intercourse with people other than your partner). And I don’t differentiate as much between this type of sexual pleasure with another person vs that type of sexual pleasure with another person.

    4. 4.4
      A Random Guy

      “A stripper can put her naked privates inches away from his face . . . He can masturbate to orgasm to some woman putting on a cam show for him.”

      Um . . . how about NOT? How about feeding the feelings that make a loving monogamous relationship exciting rather than feeding the feelings that make cheating exciting? Just like the author that EMK is quoting here: if the author and his FORMER “primary” partner took as much time to feed their love instead of feeding their lust, perhaps they’re still be together?

      1. 4.4.1

        A Random Guy,

        I like this answer! That’s pretty much the way I see it. I do both open and monogamous relationships. But the way I see it, if you’re gonna be monogamous, be monogamous.That’s why I have issues with this whole “if you’re monogamous, you can only have this kind of sexual pleasure with another person, but not that kind” attitude. If you have sexual pleasure with another person, who cares what kind it is?

        Evan calls it fantasy vs. reality. To me, a stripper or a cam show isn’t fantasy, it’s reality. I was a stripper for years. There’s nothing fantasy about me putting my naked privates in some man’s face trying to arouse him (whether live or on cam). That is a REAL sexual experience that brings the same exact highs. And feels no different than if I was doing it for my boyfriend (whether live or on cam). There literally is no difference other than it being a different man. So, to me, it would definitely fall under the “no” category if I was in a monogamous relationship.

  5. 5
    Karl R

    I kept scrolling down the page to the next article, by the same author, written 3 months after the article you linked to.

    Looking at the two articles together, there are some interesting details that the author didn’t mention. I’m increasingly skeptical that he made consensual non-monogamy “work” to any degree that I would view as a success.

    2007 – The author’s girlfriend announced that she wanted a non-monogamous relationship.
    2007(ish) – After a 6-month “pause” they try non-monogamy.
    2008 – They marry, continuing their non-monogamous relationship.
    2015 – The author’s wife decided that non-monogamy was no longer for her, turned her secondary partner into her primary partner, divorced the author, then began a monogamous relationship with the (previously) secondary partner.

    2015-2017 – The author engaged in a “24-month, full-throttle fucking spree,” while juggling three relationships. During this time, he became hooked on counterfeit Viagra and nasal spray. He was “fucking exhausted and needed pharmaceuticals to keep up with the lifestyle he’d created.”

    March 2019 – The author states, “Though I remain resistant to the trappings of monogamy on a philosophical level, I’m happy to be down to one girlfriend, no boner pills, and zero decongestant.”

    So, twelve years after first considering non-monogamy, the author sounds like he’s nominally non-monogamous, but perhaps less so in practice. His seven year marriage ended due to the non-monogamy. His (ex)wife is now in a monogamous relationship. The author spent two years after his divorce living a dangerous and unfulfilling pharmaceutical-fueled lifestyle (during his deep dive into polyamory), which he’s now recovered from.
    I think my monogamous relationship and marriage has worked out far better for me than that.

  6. 6

    An open relationship only works for men if they enjoy being cuckolds. It’s 100 times easier for a women to get laid than a man.

    Extremely few women want to begin a relationship with a man in an open relationship.

    Tons of men love the idea of No Strings Attached sex.

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