Despite the fact that each time we find models of relationships beyond monogamy, it remains the queen among the options. Other types of relationships, such as open couples, still generate some social resentment, and many people think they do or they end badly. What about jealousy? Where is the commitment? Do they really work? There are few doubts that arise about these types of couples. Today we are told in the first person what it is like to actually have an open relationship.
Carol (fictitious name) and her husband have been together since college, more than 15 years ago. At that time they have wanted, bought a house, married, had a daughter and … they have been with other people: they have an open relationship.
What is it like to have an open relationship?
Probably having an open relationship is as variable as having a closed relationship: I do not think there are two equal. In my case, it consists of having the freedom, with rules previously agreed, to have sexual, sentimental or purely intimate company with other people. Having the freedom to do so does not necessarily imply being with other people every week, that there are people who confuse you. You can be months without staying with anyone.
You have been together for many years. When did you decide that your relationship would be open?
Since the beginning of the relationship was something we had valued. We had both talked about the real “misfortunes” that monogamous society sometimes brings, and it was something that seemed absurd to both of us. A few years ago I had an opportunity with another man and I wanted to do it well: I proposed it to my husband and we both agreed. We then lay the foundations of what our relationship would look like from that moment on.
How old are you in total relationship? How many open partners?
About 11 years of marriage and about 4 or 5 years of open relationship.
Are there rules … or is it okay?
Contrary to what people believe is based on rules, of course. Ours are: 1. Family comes first. 2. Sincerity and trust always. 3. Caution and safety first and foremost.
What is the protocol? How do you act if, one night, for example, you get a plan?
Usually they are situations that were seen coming, that is, we knew they could happen, so we raised it in advance, among other things for safety. If it arises spontaneously, we usually warn the other, for example with a message, for the same thing. But yes, there is no need to agree anything, it is simply a cautionary warning.
Do you feel that you claim less sex when you have been with another? Do you want less sex with your partner when you are with another?
Yes, obviously, when my partner is with others, let me know. What kind of relationship would it be? And I would really say that it does not affect negatively either on your part or by mine to our desire for our partner to have been with others. Rather the opposite: we are more sexually active and, in addition, we feel free and respected and, therefore, with greater appreciation and desire among us.
We tend to associate loyalty, loyalty, commitment, love … to closed or monogamous relationships, how do you see it?
In this relationship the commitment is absolute, but now perhaps more because we have more goals in common since we have a daughter. Communication is vital so that there is trust and trust brings stability and tranquility: it is the basis of freedom that allows us to do what we want knowing that a priori we will never hurt. I would say that is loyalty and love.
For me, fidelity is honesty and commitment. I consider it absolutely natural to be attracted sexually by another person, and even to fall in love, without implying that you no longer want your partner. With the couple you have a project of life in common, is a person whom you admire and who respects you and loves you, that is fidelity and compromise.
I want to be free to enjoy the company of other people, but that will not make me respect and love my partner less. On the contrary, feeling free will make me more comfortable with him and know that he trusts me as I trust him. Our relationship is stronger as well.
One of the main issues generating skepticism about the viability of open relationships is the issue of jealousy. Where are jealousy left?
From my point of view, jealousy is a symptom of insecurity of the person who feels them. But the answer is yes, we are sometimes jealous, but only at some time when, for some reason, we feel unsafe either of ourselves or of our relationship as such. Talking and reinforcing as a couple and as people usually happens.
(We get a little chatty) But, would not you like to feel wanted in exclusivity? Do not you see any incentive?
Well, no. It does not seem normal for a person to want me exclusively (except perhaps in a phase of initial infatuation, at most). I do feel like, sometimes, to think that my partner is the one I most want, but I do not think it is essential. Relationship is not just desire, nor is it the most important.
How many couples do you have per year?
It is too variable to put a quantity or make a mean, but I would say about four couples a year. I do not have much free time, either (jokes).
An open relationship … to sex, or to love? What if we feel something for someone else?
It has happened to me recently. It took me a long time to figure it out, and at first it was hard to tell. It was a new situation for us and we did not know how it could affect us. It was difficult, because neither of them had anticipated it. First we tried to try to abandon that other relationship, but that negatively affected ours, so we gradually incorporated it into our lives as one more element, again respecting the rules.
Find, do you still have that relationship? What do you think “the other”?
Yes, I’m still with that other person right now. He (the other) knows perfectly what there is and, in fact, when integrating the situation in the relationship there were several moments in which the two spoke to see how we felt about it. The other understands what there is and strictly accepts the rules: he understands perfectly that the family comes first and that this is a free and ancillary relationship, which we enjoy as long as it is positive.
Could we talk about polyamory or is it still an open relationship for you?
I am not accustomed to putting names and labels, so I do not know if it would be polyamory or not. In any case I have a main relationship, say, and everything else is accessory. I feel able to love two people simultaneously, but not to maintain a stable and lasting relationship with a vital project with more than one person. I understand that, therefore, we would speak of an open relationship and not of polyamor. Although, I tell you, I do not know exactly the exact definition of the term and if it applies to me.
And has there ever been the case that someone (a third or third) is “hooked” and want more? Has anyone not understood your dynamics?
Well, fortunately not. It really is something that we made very clear from the beginning, so that possibly if we see something that we do not like, we brake before.
Have you ever been afraid that I would leave you for a monogamous relationship with another person?
Definitely not. And, most likely, neither my partner nor I would be able to have a relationship with another person who was not open. Or, if we had it, we would be more unhappy, and we know it. So no, not at all.
You have a daughter, what happened when you considered the possibility of being parents?
When we decided to have children the key was to strictly keep the rules: we always use protection with our other sexual partners, so what we did is to keep it that way but to stop using protection between us, of course. He has no more.
And during pregnancy?
I do not know if by chance or by causality, I did not happen to have sex with another person during my pregnancy. I guess I did not think much about it.
Does this model of relationship have any handicap for you?
The vast majority are advantages, since what other couples handle as jealousy or horns, for us are natural aspects of life. The only bad thing is that sometimes you have to make up some excuse when one of the two leaves the house to see someone else. To make excuses for others, I say, for example if the family asks us, or just wants to be one day that one of the two has plans with another. And of course, that implies lying, really. I do not like to lie.
So, your family is not aware …
No, it does not seem relevant to them and experience tells us that, for the moment, it is not easy to understand, so we saved the management of that information despite the fact that it involves having to “invent” some stories sometimes, like He said.
How would you define your relationship?
I consider it a normal, healthy relationship, in which communication above all else and respect for the welfare of the other, mainly.
We thank Carol for her time and the clarity with which she has told us how to have an open relationship.
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