People In Open Marriages Explain What Their Experience Was Actually Like.
Even if you've always been in monogamous relationships, I'm sure you've wondered what it's like to be in an "open" one, where there are people involved from outside the relationship. Here are some stories from people who have tried it. Some successful and some not so much.
Many thanks to all the Redditors who responded. Check out more answers from the source at the end of this article!
1. "I was glad he was having fun and was at least somewhat being satisfied when I couldn't help him."
After a lot of arguing between my husband and I about the lack of sex in our relationship (I have a very low libido because of medications I have to be on), we finally came to an agreement that he could find a friend with benefits. We agreed to some ground rules beforehand, like he couldn't spend more time with her than with me, he had to be safe, I wanted to know before he he did anything (not immediately before, but I needed a heads' up that he was interested in someone), and if he started developing feelings, he was to immediately drop it.
He started looking, and everything was fine. He'd show me some steamy texts he'd been exchanging every now and then, and it was fine; I really wasn't jealous and I was glad he was having fun and was at least somewhat being satisfied when I couldn't help him.
Then he came home and told me he was leaving me for someone else. He hadn't even had sex with her yet, but had met her while looking for a FWB. And now he's gone.
I'm not at all saying that open marriages are bad. I think, if he had been happy with the rest of our marriage like I was (and maybe had been more mature, who knows), it could have worked. I really do believe 100% that I would have been okay with it; I am not at all a jealous person and I've had FWBs before. But I do believe that if we hadn't opened the door, so to speak, he wouldn't have left. Or at least not nearly as soon, and not for someone else. But who knows.
2. "Honestly, mostly the same as before we were open."
We set up a lot of ground rules initially, things like you can't hang out with that person all the time and sleep with them more than 3 times etc. Things that would mean that you were now in a relationship with someone else (we wanted open play, not poly relationships).
Now we just can't be bothered seeing other people and the sex was never as good as with each other. We might bring in a person to jointly play with once or twice a year, but we're kind of just "over" seeing other people lol. Honestly, mostly the same as before we were open.
3. Gotta do it for the right reasons.
My friends brother is in an open relationship. I've heard how he went and messed around, but the second his wife went to go do her thing there was a huge argument.
Basically he wanted to sleep with whoever he wanted, and thought she wouldn't try the same. He likes "younger" women. "Just turned 18" is his target demographic and his wife was 19 when they met. She is older now with a kid so he is showing less and less interest.
Guy is a total douchebag too, but that story is for another time.
4. No surprises.
It's not as cut and dry as that for most couples that practice something besides strict, classic monogamy.
I have a low sex drive and my wife does not. I am a lesbian and my wife is not, she is bisexual. She remains attracted to men, despite being married to me.
With those two things in mind, we developed a method (with strict boundaries and rules) for her to explore her interest in others. It's usually a friends with benefits situation, but there has been a one night stand (which violated several rules and we had a heavy argument about it).
Our rules are as follows:
No surprises. I want to know when you realize you're attracted to someone and to know in advance when you plan to or want to pursue something.
No dating. I don't want my wife having another relationship, I just want her physical needs met where I cannot meet them.
No unprotected sex, unless we're very familiar with that person. And even then, birth control is required on her end.
That's pretty much it. I want to know when it's happening, who it's happening with, and that she's safe. There are some other nuances that aren't exactly "rules", but that I prefer. I would rather it not happen in my house so that I don't have to look at it or go somewhere else.
Keep in mind, this has only happened a few times and she's currently in between friends with benefits.
5. "I don't want a relationship right now, so it works out great for me."
I am not in the relationship, but I am in a friends with benefits with a guy AND sometimes the girl in an open relationship.
They have been together since high school, and we are all in our 30's now. They do have a kid together. I have been with one or the other, or both, but I have never even met the kid. If it's with both of them, they send the kid to a sitter and we go to their house. If it's one or the other, we either get a room or go to my place.
It seems to work very well with them as long as the 3rd party is cool with it.
He has tried numerous girls over the years, but they always want more, or don't like the fact that his significant other comes first. I don't want a relationship right now, so it works out great for me. (It's been going on for about 7 years now, off and on.)
6. "...that last one was the one I ended up having the most issue with."
Trying an open marriage was the last nail in the coffin for us.
I have since been in relationships that allow group sex (including current one) but won't ever do an open marriage or relationship again.
Current girlfriend has slept with 6 other guys in front of me and gave one guy a blowjob when I was in the other room and that last one was the one I ended up having the most issue with.
7. "I feel like I gained some valuable skills and insight during my time practicing non-monogamy."
I was in polyamorous relationships for about 10 years, and for 5 of those years I was married.
When I met my ex-husband we were both interested in exploring non-monogamy and didn't see the need for strict monogamy in long term relationships. It was fun, terrible, super sexy, really difficult, and at some moments felt like the best thing ever.
Things I learned that you will likely need to do in poly/non-mono relationships: -plan/schedule/google-calendar everything, your life gets super busy -tons of time will also be spent talking about EVERYTHING -negotiate and renegotiate rules, peoples boundaries change -be endlessly committed to self reflection and personal growth -be ready for exercising your patience for DRAMA, even those trying to avoid it have drama because if you and your partner are dating multiple people you end up with a huge connected network and drama surely happens somewhere in that network at certain points.
I feel like I gained some valuable skills and insight during my time practicing non-monogamy (like communication skills, managing my emotions, learning more about what's most important to me, learning how to be good at being alone, being super awesome at negotiating sexual boundaries, ect.) While in my heart I still feel like I'm more naturally inclined toward non-monogamy than monogamy, I've actually found that monogamy suits me better in this current world/reality.
8. "It's just way harder than a typical relationship."
Guy who's dated a sizeable number of women in open relationships / marriages.
For every stable, open relationship with solid rules that are adhered to very well, there are 10 more train wrecks in action.
I've noticed some interesting patterns. Many times, the man initiates it, but the wife / girlfriend ends up getting way more action than he does, and it alters the dynamic of the relationship considerably.
The ones that seem more solid and lasting in the open state are the fully open ones. That is: Multiple full on relationships, not just messing around. (I suspect that this is because both people are truly committed to the lifestyle, and not just satisfying urges.)
I've also noticed a lot more stability in relationships that aren't fully open where the openness has the rule where it's only open on mutual attendance. Aka, swinging, and threesomes but not individual.
The reason the fail rate is so high, is not because it's inherently ill intentioned. It's just way harder than a typical relationship. You have to be super on point and self aware at all times with your communication.
9. "The relationship ended that night."
My ex tried to convince me that being gay and monogamous isn't natural and monogamy was a system I had been brainwashed into. Every fiber of my being was telling me that I wanted to be monogamous but he was so convincing.
I resented him. He would bring home guys and have sex with them while I was studying in the other room. I specifically told him that I didn't like when he had relations in our bed while he wasn't away on business. He told me I was being too jealous and that I shouldn't be such a prude.
So I gave him a dose of his own medicine. My ex was a very superficial homosexual. There was a 6'8'' 32 year old built like a brick s---house who was very endowed. This man would make my boyfriend cry. So when the ex walked in on me getting piped like there was no tomorrow by a big daddy who was much better looking than him, he lost his mind.
The relationship ended that night.
Polyamory isn't for me and never will be. You can call me regressive or brainwashed but screw it. I enjoy a committed relationship with ONE man.
10. "It takes a LOT of work for me to meet someone and I haven't gotten any better at it over the years."
Not married, but been together 7+ years and have a kid.
Is going pretty good although I'm a bit frustrated that I'm finding it difficult to date outside the relationship while she finds it easy. I feel like I was monogamous before meeting her simply for lack of opportunity and not because I had any real need to be monogamous.
It takes a LOT of work for me to meet someone and I haven't gotten any better at it over the years. So basically I'm monogamous in a poly relationship. So that's kind of awkward.
Dating is actually even MORE difficult because not a lot of women want to date a poly guy.
Not exactly fully open, but I'm in a cuckold setup with my wife. We've been together for over 8 years, married for 4. I gave her permission, and encouragement even, to sleep with others. Between when we started dating and we got married she was with 2 other guys. Since marriage she's been with 5 more. Recently she found a Dom and she is his sub. I've never been able to play the role of a Dom well, so I'm happy she's able to explore that kink with someone else.
It's going great. We've never been closer and are having a lot of fun together. We have more sex together when she is also sleeping with others.
If you seek an open marriage because you're having issues, you're going to have a bad time. If you open it up with trust, respect, clear communication, and honesty, you should be okay. It's not for everyone.
We have a few rules, such as to practice safe sex (birth control, STD tests), and to keep it on the down-low. No co-workers or friends.
12. "We don't act particularly possessive."
So my girl and I are engaged and we have a monogamous relationship but an open sex life (define that however you want). That means threesomes and swinging, but we'll also let the other go off with other people. We've only been together a few years but our relationship is super chill and both being bisexual, very satisfying.
We also treat each other with pure respect, so we don't act particularly possessive. It's not an evolved or better way of living either, it's just how our life is most comfortable. Some people prefer monogamy and that's fine, the one thing I hate is when people act like people having an open relationship (or those who are monogamous) are doing something wrong. So long as it's about both being comfortable, happy and satisfied then it's no biggie what other people do in their relationship, right?
Old guy who did all that free love stuff back in the 1960's and grew out of it. Here's what I learned over many years: People don't know what marriage is. They think the purpose of marriage is to be happy. They have no idea what they are committing to. Every time a young couple asks me how I stayed married for so long, my answer is like this:
When you get married, you are saying you want to share someone's life with them. When they stop wanting sex, you're going to be ok with that. When they get cancer, you're going to nurse them. When they can't walk, you're going to wipe their behind.
Marriage isn't about being happy. It's about finding happiness in the duty of commitment and building a business/life/family with another person.
For those of you with healthy relationships with parents, when your parents don't make you happy you don't dump them. You don't go get more parents. You don't even imagine that. Mom and Dad are your parents forever. Marriage is the same. Your wife/husband is your family forever.
That doesn't change until their there is abuse/danger/destruction and you've tried and failed to help them (not too much). Addiction, repeated adultry (I think someone confessing can be fixed, someone getting caught cannot, repeat offenses are too much), physical abuse, constant debasement and name calling are all grounds for cutting the cord.
The same as with parents.
The problem most people have with marriages that fail is that they go in thinking, "This person will make me happy." The hell they will. That person is going to change. You married an athlete?? Watch them get overweight, melt, and decide to pursue music. You married a stay at homebody bookworm? Woops! Now they think they want to pursue acting! You think they are going to cook and be clean - uh oh - they have cancer and now you do EVERYTHING because you are a live in nurse.
Frankly, if that scares you at all, you should not get married. Because you aren't signing on for happiness. You are signing on for sharing human life, and a human life is a complete chaotic crazy mess.
I wrote this in response to the open marriage question for two reasons:
Because I read several answers and they were from people in regular monogamous relationships and were commenting about how adding more people caused it to explode. I sought to offer guidance to any young person considering marriage as a path to happiness and wanted to warn them that it is no such thing. Since those people were here, attracted by stories of three way sex and family tragedy no doubt, I figured they would see it and it might help some.
2nd reason is because I am old and I basically empower myself to do and say whatever I want all the time. I'm near death, so you can't scare me now.
We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."
This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.