In this round of #SpillSesh, I reached out to some of my followers who are currently or have been in open relationships. I wanted to get a variety of perspectives on how these relationships work in practice. We often see so much stigma and heated debate about being open – so why not hear it from the people who actually have tried it? Our second interview, also anonymous, discusses the journey to a current successful open relationship while being married and with children.
- How long ago was your open relationship, or are you still in it? And how long is or was the relationship in total?
My husband and I have been together for 12 years, and fully non-monogamous for about five years now.
- How did you meet the person?
We totally met on Myspace. 🙂
- Was the relationship open from the start or later? Did you have to be convinced or was it something you always wanted?
We were strictly monogamous for the first few years of our relationship, but we had had a conversation early on about how important it is to try and open yourself up to your partner’s fantasies rather than try and stifle them and create resentment. We both viewed it as a part of our own personal growth, learning to embrace each other more fully and appreciate what makes us both unique.
After three or four years, my husband would periodically suggest including a third person in the bedroom. My initial reaction was something along the lines of, “Absolutely not, you are mine and nobody else can have you but me!” Once I let the idea settle, though, I had to admit it sounded really hot, and I had no real reason to decline.
I was, and still am, deeply in love with my husband. I trust in and value what we have together, but I also respect it enough to know that some random guy from Grindr isn’t going to be enough to break it. What’s more, if having a threesome irreparably damages our relationship, then it wasn’t very strong to begin with, and it just wasn’t meant to be.
So I went out with a couple of friends to a club one night and found myself in an unexpected interaction with a very tall, charming young man named Matteo. He had the sexiest, curliest hair. Fast forward to 2 AM and I’m texting my husband, saying “Let’s do this,” and Matteo came home with me.
My husband and I had both agreed previously that, if it ever came to this, we would treat the situation as if one of us had brought home a present for us both to share. The third guy becomes the focus of the whole interaction, the shiny new toy that we both want to play with. I can’t say things would have worked out the same that night if we hadn’t already had that conversation, but we had a great time. Matteo was perfectly sweet and very enthusiastic, and our strategy kept us from feeling awkward or fumbling, or feeling like we had to split our time evenly to be fair. Best of all, we discovered quickly that, instead of feeling jealous of each other, we were excited (and both very turned on) to see our partner enjoying himself.
After Matteo, we decided we could handle the occasional threesome, and we did for some time. It wasn’t until about five years ago, when I got a new job that had me traveling regularly for work, that the possibility of playing separately came up. After about three months on the road, both of us were thinking about it. I was interacting with new people in new cities constantly, staying in hotels with complete freedom over how I spent my time when I wasn’t working, and my husband would have week-long stretches where he had our house all to himself.
I can’t even remember which one of us brought it up. I remember being very hesitant at first, even though I had been fantasizing about it for months. Having threesomes was something we did together, and truly it had brought us closer, sexually. This was something that could run the risk of pulling us apart. This could be disastrous, especially with us being so far apart as often as we were, and that frightened me. There were so many “What if’s,” and I shared them all with my husband. What if one of us meets a guy and they hit it off and it turns into something more? What if the sex is so much better that it makes us desire each other less? What if we meet up with a guy and it turns out to be an unsafe situation?
I ended up reaching out to a friend of mine who was in a long-term open relationship with his boyfriend. He asked me some very probing questions, and had me walk myself through a scenario of meeting and hooking up with a guy at my hotel, down to some really specific details. I had to describe what this fantasy guy looked like, what kind of initial interaction we had, up to the point where he suggests we meet up.
“So imagine you say ‘No’ to him, because you’re monogamous and not allowed. How do you feel?” my friend asked me.
“Disappointed, sexually frustrated, but proud of myself for staying loyal to my husband,” I replied.
“Okay, now imagine your husband wants you to do it, and you do,” he continued. “How do you feel?”
I thought about it for a minute. “If he wants me to do it, I guess I feel fine. Maybe I feel a little dirty?”
I do remember thinking I might feel dirty, but as I thought about it, I realized: Why should I? By whose standards am I “dirty”? My friend had effectively showed me that I had no reason not to at least try this out.
So my husband and I decided we would each try and hook up with a guy on our own and see how we felt about it after, and we did. I was in Phoenix and he was home alone, and we fired up our Grindr apps and got lucky. We met up with our new beau’s for the evening, had some fun and called each other after. Honestly, I felt excited. I felt a thrill that I hadn’t felt since I was single; the thrill of meeting someone new and discovering their bodies. It was fun, and there was my husband on the other line afterwards, equally exuberant and excited to share his story with me. As I listened, I found myself responding to it much like I do when we have threesomes; excited for him, and pretty turned on as well.
- What was the best part of the open relationship?
The relief, if that makes sense. If I don’t feel like having sex for a night, I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m giving my husband blue balls, and vice versa. We have sex with each other regularly, but it’s when we both want to, without feeling pressure from each other, and as a result, it’s more loving and warm, and we connect more on an emotional level.
- What was the most challenging part of the open relationship?
The early stages of it, for sure. We started out with a ton of rules: No friends, no sleepovers, never without permission, never if we’re fighting about anything. I know there were more, but most of them fell away after a while. The only ones we have now are that we tell each other everything, and we don’t hook up with other guys if we’re in any kind of fight. But figuring out what we were comfortable with in the beginning was a struggle.
- Did you hook up with others together or separately? Did you feel jealous ever and how did you deal with that?
We initially hooked up with others together only, but after a few years we started playing separately as well. It took some real self-reflection and some open and honest conversations beforehand, but as long as we maintained the perspective that the guys we were hooking up with were purely physical, meaningless interactions, then there was no jealousy.
Here is what it really boils down to here. We are humans who are constantly growing, changing and evolving, and so do our tastes. My husband is gorgeous – tall, muscular, freckled, blue eyed and dimpled, with really sexy tattoos. I love all of that about him, but he’s never going to be the beefy, furry Latin daddy that I’ve been fantasizing about lately, and I’m never going to be the dumb college kid my husband has been craving. If I love my husband, why should I force him to play with only my dick and my body for the rest of his life? We both have fantasies and desires, and it’s natural that many of them involve something that we can’t give each other by ourselves. I love him and I want him to be happy, so why not let him enjoy life that much more?
- Did you feel pressure that if you changed your mind about the open relationship it would be over?
Not at all. I think we were lucky to have figured out early that we had to be open and honest with our communication with each other if we wanted this to work. If I told him I wanted to be monogamous again, it would most certainly lead to a long conversation, but it wouldn’t end our relationship.
Frankly, I don’t think it will ever come to that. Our extra-marital activities ebb and flow for sure, and since we adopted our two boys a year-and-a-half ago, it’s even less frequent, and that’s fine. I think what will happen is, as we continue to grow together, we will play outside of our marriage less frequently, but I see no reason why we should stop completely, or make rules about it. More rules just creates more reasons for us to be mad at each other.
- Did you feel that the person who wanted the relationship to be open was in control?
I don’t. It took a lot of self-exploration and discussion before we made these decisions, and we made them together.
- Did you see being open as a permanent relationship structure or just doing it as a phase or to help a problem and that it would eventually go back to monogamy?
I think I answered this a couple of questions ago. I don’t see it as either permanent or a phase. I see it as just something we are allowing ourselves to experience organically. It’s about fulfilling our desires and keeping ourselves from ever feeling limited or stifled by our relationship. I have no idea what my dick will want ten years from now, so I can’t predict what our relationship will look like then either.
- Do/did you share the fact that you were open with friends or family? Were you proud or ashamed of it?
Now that is a great question. My husband told his two closest friends like it was a matter of course, and I didn’t even find out until he started talking about it openly in front of them while they were at our house. I was mortified. Totally embarrassed. I had no idea that we would be discussing this type of thing with other people, especially when it was so new for us. As soon as I shared that with my husband, though, I could tell he felt awful. We just had different perceptions of the situation, and it actually brought about a good conversation, so we kept it quiet for a while.
We have since told people as it feels comfortable to us. A handful of our closest friends and family know; just people we feel close enough to share something that intimate with. Our parents don’t ever need to learn this though. I think us being gay and having adopted children is enough for them to adjust to.
- Did the open relationship come out of one person cheating without the others knowledge?
- What are your tips for someone considering an open relationship?
Firstly, opening your relationship won’t ruin it unless it isn’t strong enough to begin with. On the flip side, it won’t fix a problem you have with your partner cheating, or keep him from losing interest in you. The relationship has to be rock solid for this to be successful. You need to be able to be happy for him when he has fun with someone else, and vice versa. Remember that this is something that you are giving to each other in order to more fully enjoy life. It is your responsibility to support your partner, not limit him. As long as you continue to come from a place of wanting your partner to be happy, and as long as you are open and honest with each other about what you’re doing, you can be successful.
- If you’re married or have children and are in an open relationship, do you face any other unique challenges? Would you explain it to your children?
We are married and have children. I don’t know that being married changes the situation. We are two people cohabitating regardless. Having kids completely changed things, though, of course.
Our boys were 4 and 6 when they moved in, and suddenly our time wasn’t our own anymore, and our space wasn’t our own either. We had to revisit all of the decisions we were making with our children’s welfare as the first consideration. Now we no longer invite guys over anymore unless the boys aren’t home, of course, which makes things much more difficult for my husband when I’m traveling. It hasn’t even been two years yet, though, so I’d say we’re still trying to figure that all out. Being able to pursue our physical desires with the safety net of having a loving husband at home has probably spoiled us a little, and now we’re still trying to figure out how to maintain that without it affecting our kids.
If we ever explain this to our children, it won’t be until they are adults who have had relationships of their own, I think. Somehow the question of whether or not we would ever tell our kids hasn’t actually come up between us yet. It has just been assumed so far that we’re keeping it a secret from them, but they’re only 6 and 7 right now, so sex in general is still something we keep a secret. I think we will just need to continue to keep in mind that, as our family grows, our rules will need to grow as well, and that we need to be open to changing how we handle things.
- Any other thoughts, comments, advice, tips, regrets?
I don’t have any regrets. I’m having way too much fun to regret it! As far as advice or tips: Beyond what I said before, I think something important to keep in mind is that the foundation for an open relationship is the same as the foundation for a monogamous one. It is important that your relationship be built on trust, compassion for each other, and open communication. The minute you prioritize your own feelings above your partner’s is when things can start to fall apart, so focus on maintaining that balance.