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Can You Handle An Open Relationship?


She has made a home for you. Your relationship is solid and always has been. She is a true life partner. Intellect, humor, tastes, interests, social inclinations—these all align between the two of you. Your differences are complimentary: what you lack and crave, she possesses and vice versa. There is genuine affection and a deep, irrepressible love.

Sex is the problem. As Gore Vidal says, it is always the problem because it gets in the way of happiness.

The cause of the falling off of the intense sexual marathons indulged in by most new couples is rarely discussed—at least, not honestly so. When it is talked about, most individuals, in an attempt to appear both innocent and non-judgmental, give the “I don’t know what happened” response.

This of course is disingenuous. The problem is exactly known: one or the other party is no longer satisfied with the sex, and it has put an unbearable strain on the relationship. The latter would be salvageable and worth pursuing if the desires of the aggrieved party could be satisfied.

You may be in this situation. It is not that you are no longer attracted to your partner; it is just that having sex with her now feels more like a tiresome chore than a burning desire. Perhaps she has made remarks to the same effect. Should the two of you consider an open relationship?

You should. But to hold the relationship together you must clear the air about the nature, intentions, and possible consequences of maintaining a joint home life and separate sexual lives.

The first thing to get straight is your reasons for wanting to go to another woman’s bed. You may have someone in particular in mind or several women whom you’ve teased, flirted with, and made advances toward. It is best if the latter is the case. For if you are falling for another woman, it is terribly dishonest—and terribly cruel—to use an open relationship to mask an intended break-up. Better to be compulsively curious about putting your face and your dick between other women’s legs.

Brute honesty is needed here. You must tell your partner that you love only her and want to keep your home, and all that you’ve made of it, together; sex is the only thing you will seek elsewhere.

You must allow her the same liberty. And herein lays a possible difficulty. One of the reasons men cheat is that we want to both enjoy other women and keep the woman we love all to ourselves. Establishing an open relationship is a more honest, and probably healthier, way of doing things, but it means letting go of your sexual monopoly over your girl.

Can you handle that? Are you a naturally jealous man? Can you, in the words of Iago, “Behold her topped…” and think nothing of it? Or is your thinking the same as that of Othello’s:

“I had been happy if the general camp, Pioneers and all, had tasted her sweet body, So I had nothing known. Oh, now forever. Farewell the tranquil mind!”

If you sympathize with this sentiment, then an open relationship is not for you. Jealousy is a corrosive and destructive force in any relationship. If it rises in you or your girl while in an open relationship, the two of you must either split up or carry on secret liaisons.

About Christopher Reid

Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.

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