The dynamics of an open relationship

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by flame boy, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. flame boy

    flame boy Account Disabled

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    Disclaimer: I don't give a shit about what people do in their relationships, it's their choice and if they are happy and not hurting anyone why should anyone else care. So that's my disclaimer that I'm not passing any judgement and I think its cool whatever you decide to do.

    I was speaking to an online friend and he was telling me about a few of his "friends" (his term) with who has regular hook ups. He and his boyfriend are happy and in an open relationship. I wanted to ask him more about the dynamic of their relationship but I thought LSPG would provide a wider scope for feedback.

    I am really curious to hear from people in open relationships about how they operate and what are their ground rules (which I presume are important). My friend for example does not tell his boyfriend about these hook-ups, its very much a case of don't ask, don't tell.

    If you are in an open relationship do you have to talk about your relationship a lot more? For example how do you approach the discussion when you have to tell your partner about any other sex you are having?

    When it comes to the physical act, does your other half know where you are and what you are doing at that precise time? If you are someone in an open relationship how does it feel to be the partner not hooking up at a certain time?

    I suppose the practical side is just a case of setting some rules and sticking to them (or not setting rules as the case may be). What about the emotional side of things? Do you find that you are talking about your relationship a lot and reassuring one another etc?

    In short, I'm nosey and want to know the inner workings of how this all works. I have lots of questions and I'd be really interested to see different peoples approach and outlook on this.
     
  2. molotovmuffin

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    Tagging along. I personally don't to ever be in an open relationship, I don't share well...but I am curious about those that do.
     
  3. flame boy

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    I'm glad I'm not the only one. It's one of those things that isn't really kosher to outright ask someone in person. I thought LPSG would be a good place to bring this up.
     
  4. Bbucko

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    None of my many relationships started open, but none ended closed.

    The rules were set based on the personalities involved and our degree of experience. The younger relationships came with much more specific guidelines, the later ones were much more ad hoc. The number one rule that has never varied is to never spend time out when it could be spent together. If I were to attempt another relationship that would be a given.

    I've been in two relationships where we only played together (though my partners sometimes broke that one, I never did). I also had two relationships where each could basically do whatever he wanted, so long as it was never, ever discussed.

    I've played with couples that had all sorts of byzantine rules that really limited our pleasure. The worst one (that I can recall) was when I wound up fucking the life out of the top in their relationship. I was told later by a mutual friend that seeing his top get topped caused the bottom to end their 10+ year relationship :redface:, though frankly there must have been other issues at play there.

    Everyone's different, and each couple negotiates an opening of their relationship for different reasons. Sometimes it's a case of mutual sexual incompatibility despite a deep-seated love and all sorts of financial entanglements. Sometimes it's a quest for novelty or an attempt to bring the spark into a relationship that's become sorta ho-hum. Sometimes there's a curiosity that needs to be satisfied, whether over a specific person or a specific act that one of the partners simply cannot/will not satisfy.

    In all cases that I've encountered, it's because the couple found a way of detaching sex from an intense feeling of intimacy that can only be shared with one other, very special person. Ideally, outside sex is just sex. When it morphs into something more meaningful then there's usually a very rough road ahead, for all parties concerned.
     
  5. flame boy

    flame boy Account Disabled

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    Thanks for sharing Bbucko, what an awesome post. It seems that every couple with define what "open" means to them. For some it's free roam and for others it seems like a complex web of stipulations (seemingly going against the 'open' aspect).

    Did you find that the open aspect of your past relationships was a gateway to more emotional issues between you and your partner? For example, if you would argue with one another would the open relationship be used as ammunition?

    I know of a couple who were monogamous, then they opened their relationship after one of the parties cheated. They had a number of threesomes and played together until one of the couple fell for a third party and broke it off to be with the third. I personally felt that in this couples case they opened their relationship as a way of glossing over the real issue of infidelity. When this was discussed they accused anyone who brought it up of being a prude and not understanding the way open relationships work.

    Of course I'm not specifically directing these questions at you and your relationships, more as a generalisation to anyone in the same situation.
     
  6. D_Alec_Baldtwins

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    I've only known one couple that had an open relationship, and their basic rules were that you were discreet about it - you didn't flaunt it. You didn't bring the action home. You didn't talk about it.

    It nonetheless ended badly when the guy screwed the landlady (literally, not figuratively), and there were complications...
     
  7. spoon

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    i've also wondered about open relationships as well. also--mmf and ffm--emotions can be tricky. sometimes something can bother you that you've never thought could bother you.
     
  8. Bbucko

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    Not directly, no: the only time our having such an arrangement played directly into an argument was when one of my exes broke our rule about taking time away that should have been spent together. I found that intolerable not just for breaking our rule but also because it was a kind of retaliation on his part for my having sex with one specific guy; I forget now why it steamed my ex so badly (it's been over 28 years now, so some fogginess is understandable), but for whatever reason it made him furious. That fight went so nuclear that we wound up breaking up over it.

    Opening up a relationship as a reaction to an episode of cheating is, in my opinion, the worst possible reason for changing the rules. Successfully open relationships work best when the reasoning and rationale for changing the rules are done in as emotionally-neutral and unbiased a state of mind as can be possible.

    I also believe that limits and rules need to be negotiated before anything actually happens. The only exception that I can think of would be if a truly spontaneous three-way just sorta happened (think of being on holiday/vacation, away from one's routines, probably a little buzzed and confronted with a truly fabulous specimen in a completely no-strings situation). In the aftermath, after some sleep and (hopefully) sober, the meaning, if there was any, of the experience and its relevance to your lives back home should really be analyzed.

    But I'm a highly analytical person by nature, which isn't always a blessing in a relationship where mistakes happen, unkind words are flashed out in anger only to be regretted later and, really, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar :rolleyes:

    One final thought on this topic: I have two friends here in SoFla whom I've known for about four years now. They are both two or three years on either side of fifty years old, and each is well-established in his career. They operate residences in Ft Lauderdale and in Westchester County, an affluent area directly north of NYC. By any standard you'd choose to use, they are successful and very handsome, as well as intelligent, personable and highly self-developed emotionally. When I met them, I thought they made the perfect couple, whose relationship was at least 15 years on.

    They had the type of open relationship that was fairly loosely organized: only when one or the other was out of town, never doing anything in their own bed and not seeing anyone more than two or three times (ie: no affairs, just tricks). They followed a strict binary-role relationship, with one being a strict top, the other being a total bottom, so they'd probably never compete for the same guy. The bottom had propositioned me several times, more out of curiosity than passion, and I always agreed in theory without ever actually consummating anything, so it was really just chatter. I was at a sex party about a year and a half ago and the top was there; we acknowledged each other, spoke briefly than went about our own business, as we really hold very little appeal for each other.

    All hell broke loose this spring when, to everyone's amazement, the top met and fell passionately in love with a guy in NYC who was in his mid-twenties. The bottom was actually willing to let it run its course, but the top, realizing that an essential rule had been breached, refused to consider anything other than a complete and final split. After almost twenty years together, their finances were completely entwined, and though each lost money, it was the bottom who bore the brunt of the losses. Combined with the fact that he still loves his partner, even now, he is inconsolable.

    It's easy to say that opening their relationship doomed it, but I think that'd be wrong and an over-hasty conclusion. Their relationship worked perfectly well for over a decade (at least) open to their own rules. Instead I think it's more the case of a sort of mid-life crisis on the part of the top, who would probably have had the affair regardless.
     
  9. Countryguy63

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    Flameboy, I'll bet if you expressed a genuine desire to talk about it without judgement (as you did here), he'd probably be open to talking.
    Most just desire to be understood and not judged.
     
  10. flame boy

    flame boy Account Disabled

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    Another awesome post Bbucko, thanks for sharing. I think how relationships works is entirely fascinating and it's quite true that no two couples will operate in the same way. It's a really interesting topic to me and I could listen to anyones take on it.

    CG - I think thats the key point, so many people feel that if you are not in a similar situation then you will judge them. I will approach my friend when the topic comes up and see how it goes.

    By all means, anyone feel free to share their stories.
     
  11. v32bone

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    For the last 5 or so years I've been the secondary partner in 3 different polyamorous relationships. Bbuckos points about rules and parameters are definitely a must. The difference in these particular relationships, and the general defining characteristics of what is called Polyamorous (i.e. "multiple loves") is what differs between a so-called"open" relationship which seems to pertain more specifically to just having outside sex partners sans emotional connection, and "poly" which by definition really means havin multiple people you are in love with openly. That in both poly and open arrangements the outside (i,e, "secondary" partners) generally provide something that the primary partners do not get from each other.

    My situations: a) I was an occasional lover (monthly for about 4 years, less frequently since) with a married ex-girlfriend who continues to be very happy in a sex-less marriage of 25 years. She and hubby have grown apart in the bedroom but good everyway else. Their arrangement is to not talk about outside partners. They have been sexless with each other for approx. 15 years. I have met him and we get along just fine with no talk of what goes on with his wife and I. b) I have an exploratory partner who was celibate for 7 years while studying meditation and spiritual matters. We met and she asked me to be her "exploratory partner". We became very close, best friends some might say, occasional lovers, even roommates for a long period. She, during this period has been in two consecutive lesbian live-in relationships. I occasionally play with her and her lovers and sometimes we bring in a 4th. This is not frequent currently. c) I am a poly partner of a woman who has been married 12 years and she and her husband have a poly arrangement: he usually has one outside gf and she usually has 3 outside boyfriends, all of us approved by the hubby. She won't date anyone that there isn't a real emotional connection with. Sure, I'd love a full time monogamous relationship with someone special and hopefully they'd be amenable to my relationships with thee women. I feel true love, trust, open, honest compassion for these women and feel a part of their lives and they mine. But this is a rare and amazing thing. It is the strength, depth and honesty between us all that cements the ability to rise above and work out petty jealousies, insecurities and fears. Logistics are major pain in the ass and even more so now that we all live a great distance away from each other. But our roles and needs change constantly. Coming from a place of love and from a place where our various partners' happiness is the overriding factor of our relationships, Without this it would be impossible to deal with.

    So yes, in answer to a couple of the OPs specific questions, YES we talk a lot more that I was used to in a relationship and I'm a talker! Just more open communication and when things get dicey or uncomfortable, the fact that we are so used to such honet communication adds so much to the productivity of our discussions. Trust is deeper because heartfelt honesty is expected. I think it has made me incredibly more understanding a human being as well as a lover and I feel whatever future relationships will benefit greatly from these learning experiences now.
     
    #11 v32bone, Dec 4, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  12. v32bone

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    In all of these relationships my other partners at the time generally knew that I was having sex with another partner. But I was never their primary partners. In the case of a) as stated her partner cared not to know and she of his outisde partners. In the case of b) while she was in these ltr we generally only had sex along with those partners. We'd occasionally play without her other partners knowing in the early days when those ltrs were in the formative stages and not the line-in stages. In the case of c) her husband always knows when she and I are getting together for sex and they discuss things after to varying degrees. Every relationship has it's own parameters based on the specicifc needs of the individuals.

    Regarding rules and sticking to them also of equal importance is flexibility and reconsideration of rules as needs, time and circumstances all change. Life is not lived in a vacuum and thus we must be willing to compromise and adapt. THIS is where the respect and honest and communication skills are vital.

    It has been a learning experience being #2 on the relationship lists of these partners. Not a day goes by when I don't want to be with one of them. So it is emotionally tough to always have to schedule around not just my partner and my needs but around an assortment of others as well. Considering that between myself and these partners and their partners there are between 7-10 people's schedules and needs to consider at any given time (much less those of kids, jobs, distance, etc.) logistics are extremely difficult. The key is in always trying to keep other people's needs and happiness in the forefront of your mind. It's satisfying just knowing you can love someone so much that this is possible. THAT is the big lesson.
     
  13. flame boy

    flame boy Account Disabled

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    Thanks for sharing your experiences v32bone, it's really interesting to see how this works with different people. It sounds like by trusting one another to explore sexually you have built a stronger bond of trust.
     
  14. MelbourneGirl

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    Our ground rules are simple. Tell me if you want to, don't if you don't. Pretty straight forward really? Oh and the relationship has been working well for 10 years.

    We talked about this sort of stuff more in the early years. Now after so much time together, it's not really important enough to discuss. My partner can get jealous on occasion and so prefers not to know about my hook-ups. I don't mind whether he tells me about his or not, but most of his revolve around his other partner (who I am friends with).

    He doesn't know where I am, as he prefers not to know. Whereas, if my partner has gone to his other lover's home, I do usually know where he is. It doesn't worry me at all not being the person hooking up. I don't view it as a competition. I'm just glad my partner is getting to spend quality time with somebody who adores him. It's a great feeling!

    The talking and reassurring comes in the early days. Once you get past that, it's oh so much easier. The fewer 'rules' the better. Also the less questions the better. There are only two important ones to ask; "Did you have a good time?" and "Does this change anything between us?" That's it.
     
  15. sexplease

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    I think, down the road of human evolution, most people will see, perhaps it is easier and more rewarding to be free from imposed monogamy, like all other creatures on earth.
    monogamy is a self-chosen way, and few are truly capable of handling its boundaries.
     
  16. tworites

    tworites New Member

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    I do open relationships, so I am more than willing to answer questions. For more than a year Iv been with my bf, and during that time have also had several friends with benefits (NOTE: WHEN I SAY FRIEND WITH BENEFITS I DO MEAN THAT. A FRIEND. that I also happen to sometimes play with. it does not mean a one night stand). The bf knows about them, and knows them by name and appearance, but has never met them and I am careful to separate those aspects of my life. He knows it goes on, but that doesn't mean I need to rub it in his face. He, in turn, is free to sleep with other girls if he likes, and he knows this, though so far he hasen't. I think too many people think "open relationship" means "free liscence to be a cheating bastard" and thats simply not how it works. It takes a very strong personality and a lot of honesty to be okay with sharing and being shared. And you also have to stop looking at it as cheating. You have more than 1 friend, do you not? And yet you love them all. You have more than 1 family member, and you love them all as well. Making a new platonic friend doesn't mean you love your family, spouse, or other friends any less-- and having more than 1 lover doesnt mean you love your primary mate any less.

    As for me, my ground rules for him, and all my friends w benefits are: be honest with me, and do not be stupid (ie, bring an STD into the relationship). thats it. everything else can be worked out like adults between us all.
     
  17. Infernal

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    I'm in an open relationship. It's been a big adjustment for us both. There were issues at first, but some brutal honesty and a little counseling has made it easier for us. I have a somewhat low sex drive, and he has the sex drive of a 16 year old. Sometimes it gets to be too much and I'm just not in the mood so he goes out for it. We each have our own needs, but there are things we don't like to do either, so at times our sex drives are not in sync at all. The basic ground rules are pretty simple. There can't be any deception at all because we both feel a relationship has to be built on honesty and communication. So he always asks me first if I'm in the mood, then asks if I mind him going out. It has to be 100% safe. I don't need to know who it was or where it happened, though it can't ever happen in our bed. or while I'm at home. In return I'll show him the same courtesy and be open and honest about what I do. It has been a learning experience for us both, and like any relationship, it is still a work in progress.
     
  18. Uncutpete

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    I have been in an open relationship with my wife of many years, throughout our marriage. Both of us have very strong sex drives, and want to have sex lives that involve many outside partners. We both are happy that the other is being given pleasure and sexually appreciated by their others. This is important because there is no way that either of us can satisfy the other's outside desires, hers for really young men, mine for my couples and unsatisfied wives. Our rules are simple and logical: we have to spend good sexual time with each other regularly; total honesty if the other person wants or needs to know; healthy practices; no falling in love with others (and if that begins to happen we have a kind of alarm that is invoked); no putting the other into humiliating situations, like fucking too close to home, good friends without agreement, situations where the partner would feel too exposed.
     
  19. Phil Ayesho

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    The many, ended, tho.

    This, I think, is the crux of all 'open' relationship sagas.

    I think it is the rarest thing on earth, to find a couple who can 'swing' or dally... and manages only to do so with other people who are equally capable of handling it without complication.

    No matter how 'evolved' the relationship... sooner or later, trying on one after another, someone is gonna rub up against someone who elicits, or expresses, far more attachment than can be accommodated by everyone involved.
     
  20. Thirdlegproduction

    Thirdlegproduction Formerly WhiteMonst3r
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    I tried introducing the idea several times, as in the long run people just make mistakes and I'd rather be open with it then keeping lies from one another.

    I would prefer my partner to only explore that side with other women as I feel like I should be able to give her all the "Male" experience she needs.

    But if it were to happen with another man she could share but I really don't want any details.

    At this age it hasn't worked for me yet because my gf's were unwilling to share me, afraid of losing me to another.
     
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