Are you open to an open relationship? Or do you think open relationships are like snowflakes – they are all the same, and they melt quickly? Would you rather be single or indulge in non-monogamy?

It seems like there are lots of awkward questions regarding open relationships.

Dan Trepanier

Mentor Coach, Why Are Open Relationships So Awkward To Discuss?

Is an open relationship right for you? How do you think you would feel entering one with your partner?

Are you already in an open relationship – or not?

What are your THOUGHTS, OBSTACLES, and EMOTIONS?

  • What’s your perspective on this topic?
  • Dealing With Jealousy
  • An Interesting Find
  • Are you already in an open relationship – or not?

There are so many questions, perspectives, and emotions wrapped up in this subject that often it’s easier to avoid a discussion.

Are open relationships (non-monogamy) the last sexual Taboo? – non-monogamy is far more common than you would think.

Historically, people craved diversity in their love lives even when individual happiness was not accepted as our birthright and when the average marriage life could be as short as 15 years. Nowadays, we could spend 50 years or more with our partners.

Within such a period, the temptation to stray must be more persistent. Besides, contemporary communications technology makes it easier to conduct affairs. – Mamamia 

How common are open relationships amongst gay couples?

  • 53% of single gay men said they’d rather be available than in an open relationship.
  • 29% of single gay men believe relationships end up open because gay men can’t be monogamous.
  • 31% of gay men in open relationships believe relationships end up open because gay men can’t be monogamous. However,
  • 47% think that it’s quite possible to have a monogamous relationship but choose not to.
  • 73% in an open relationship believe it’s possible to cheat.
  • 75% of gay men in open relationships have rules in place. However, 21% of those currently in an open relationship, and
  • 15% of those in an open marriage/civil partnership admitted to having broken the rules on occasion.

These statistics, according to Gay Star News, Four in 10 gay men have had an open relationship.

Why Are Open Relationships So Awaked to Discuss?

Reflect on the three points below and share your comments

 

1) What’s your perspective on this topic?

James asks; What impact does the sexual energy of another person in my life have on my primary relationship? 

There are many different ways to describe the feeling of another person brought into your relationship. Still, I think it is best if you imagine the other person as a new baby. The excitement and discovery versus the fear of the unknown both coincide.

This newcomer will change your lifestyle and schedule, and they could be a significant cause of stress, but how you deal with this is paramount to your relationships’ success.

In any relationship, communication is critical. It would help if you found clarity in each other’s actions, and through conversation, only then can you understand one another’s feelings and your future together.

1) Dealing With Jealousy

The biggest obstacle in any open relationship is jealousy, but how is your jealousy made up?

Jealousy is a combination of emotions; depression, paranoia, anger, hurt, betrayal, anxiety and sadness, but how is your jealousy made up? For example, if your jealousy is 50% hurt, 40% betrayal and 10% fear, you have, in theory, broken down your jealousy into three different emotions – bite-size pieces if you will. These emotions are now something that you can work on separately on your own or as a couple.

3) An Interesting Find

Long Term Open Relationships: A New Survey ©Tom Moon, MFT, 2007Here are a few excerpts worth sharing with you. 

When it comes to the subject of open relationships, absolute and passionate opinions, abound. Some people’ know’ that they are the only kind of relationship that works for gay men, and others’ know’ that all open connections are doomed to fail. Opinions are plentiful, but reliable information about what happens in open relationships is scarce.

Blake and Lanz met in their mid-twenties and have been together for 32 years. After all that time, “we still have great sex,” Blake tells me, contradicting the common pessimistic belief that sexual interest inevitably wanes in a long-term relationship. How do they do it? “One reason,” Lanz says, “is that we’ve been in an open relationship from the very beginning. If we hadn’t been grown, we have been able to grow individually or as a couple. We’ve been able to bring what we learn with other sex partners into the relationship. We’ve been able to get some of those partners into the relationship, not as casual sex buddies, but also as friends. Being in an open relationship has helped keep our relationship exciting and alive.”

Their experience contradicts some common beliefs about open relationships. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say,

“Once you open a relationship up to outside sex, it’s the beginning of the end,” or “When you have outside sex, you lose your focus on each other, and the closeness gets diluted by all the outside activity.”

Both Blake and Lanz agree that their experience has not matched those predictions.

But for years, they struggled with the issues that inevitably arise in an open relationship in relative isolation. “We felt aberrant.” Blake said, “We couldn’t talk about it with our non-homosexual friends because to them, an open relationship automatically meant ‘infidelity.’ But it was also hard to talk about with our gay friends. 

After the AIDS epidemic began, a lot of them just thought having outside sex was irresponsible. We also felt pressure from our friends to be ‘the perfect gay couple.'” And as the gay marriage movement gathered momentum, they felt expected to be poster boys for gay marriage, which seemed to mean monogamy, even though many of their friends were neither monogamous nor aspired to be.

The majority of gay male relationships are open (although I also believe that more and more young gay men are opting for monogamy), so learning how difficult it is for so many people to discuss the issue somewhat surprised me. 

Lanz and Blake have decided, as a way to give back to the community, to embark on the ambitious project of using their combined training and experience in research and psychology to do an independent, in-depth study of other long-term open gay male relationships. 

They want to find out how other couples navigate the issues, what “rules” they find helpful, what impact the outdoor sex has on their relationship, and so on. They emphasize that their goal is not to proselytize for open relationships and that they very much understand and respect the fact that monogamy is the preferred option for some. Their goal is to increase our understanding of how successful open relationships work. 

So far, they’ve interviewed twenty couples from all over the United States and Canada. Their goal is to question a total of one hundred couples and then make their findings public, probably in book form.

They’ve found that while it’s been relatively easy to find men in open relationships, it’s hard to find very many willing to be interviewed about it. Sometimes that’s because the couple is still struggling with the issue. Sometimes it’s because the men don’t want their friends to know that they’re non-monogamous. 

“It’s amazing how charged the issue is for a lot of people,” Blake tells me.