One thing I’ve never thought about before actually experiencing it is a situation when one partner is getting more sex “on the side” than the other. When I imagined an open relationship earlier, I used to picture both of us coming back from exciting dates and exchanging hilarious stories over a cup of tea. In reality, one of us comes back from an exciting date while the other one just had a beer with friends or a yoga class. It takes all the tact and emotional intelligence to avoid the feelings of guilt and resentment in the couple.
When we started dating, the one who had more chances to get laid was me because we lived in the centre Buenos Aires and I spent a lot of time dancing tango. Finding partners was easy. I just said “do you want to go to a hotel” to people I had especially enjoyed dancing with, and most of the time they did.
Then we moved to the suburbs, I started working from home more, and my boyfriend got more work in the capital (he does fashion photography). Fashion people – models, designers, makeup artists – are an open-minded lot. He started to get more romantic opportunities coming his way and I was stuck with the classic “fucking a gardener” option which didn’t appeal to me much.
I understand that the balance can easily be restored by looking for sexual partners online if you’re not finding many in real life. We don’t do it much – we both prefer the “authentic” way of hooking up. If you share this preference, you need to realize that an open relationship won’t always look like “we’re both fucking other people”. Sometimes it will look like “I’m fucking other people and he’s letting me” or the other way around.
Two main pitfalls that this situation can involve are:
Jealousy – the ever-present danger of the open relationship which can be mitigated when you’re “even” and get worse when one of you is being more exclusive than the other.
Competitiveness – maybe you don’t mind the idea of your partner being with other people, but it damages your self-esteem that you get fewer “adventures”.
When my boyfriend and I talk about this it is mostly in a joking tone like “wow, I’m losing three to zero”. But I think subconsciously we try to make the situation easier for each other, similarly to what we do when we talk about sex outside the couple. If one of us is having a dry spell, the other is trying not to show off his or her glamorous sex life. Maybe we even pass on a couple of opportunities which are not that interesting.
Surely, a situation when something is going on in both partners’ lives is more comfortable and we do our best to keep it this way. We go out together as much as we can, we introduce each other to people. Sometimes it almost looks like we’re each other’s wingmen and I love the feeling of trust and intimacy spiced up with excitement that I experience in those moments.
If you’re thinking of starting an open relationship or opening up your current relationship, I promise you there will be times when you will feel scared, jealous, lonely or confused. There will also be times when you will feel ecstatic, fulfilled and liberated. It’s a crazy ride, and if you’re up to it, I wish you the best of luck.
Follow me on twitter to find out more about open relationships and polyamory, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions and help you out if I can. Let me know what you think in the comments!