One of the most popular articles that we've ever had on YourTango was written by Jenny Block and discussed the taboo and personal topic of open marriage (click here for it). This topic and the author's experience have inspired a bunch of comments from our readership. We received an eloquent argument in favor of open relationships. We're not saying that we agree with Anonymous Coward but we think that he has a very measured approach to an unbelievably tricky situation.
I read through these comments, and I see mostly hatred, shame, and guilt from the "happily monogamous" crowd, and mostly sharing, loving, and life from the "you go girl" crowd. My feelings are definitely leaning towards the "you go girl", and here's a slice of my life, so you can decide for yourself why I feel that way.
My partner and I are in an "open" relationship, in the sense that either of us can, at any time, take a lover.
We have a few ground rules, of course, the most important of which is the honesty inherent in the relationship. Without honesty, there is no trust. Without trust, there is no relationship, because there is no relating.
Speaking as the male in this scenario, I would like to point out my personal feelings on the subject of this article. If my woman were to meet someone she liked, were to want to have sex with that person, and the other person was similarly inclined, I would be offended if she did not pursue it.
Allow me to reiterate, for those who missed it the first time: I *want* my woman to "sleep around". As a matter of fact, it would upset me if she were to *not* pursue physical pleasure, if it was offered, and she wanted it. If I thought that she had turned it down out of deference to me and my feelings of jealousy, or out of some sense of duty to me, I would be absolutely horrified.
Our household runs on rational thought. Our feelings, just like everyone else's, have little to do with rational thought. This is an enormous barrier to communication, but if you can figure out how to surmount it, then you're in a very good place.
We communicate constantly, and to be quite honest, our external "affairs" are few and far between. Having the freedom to have emotions, on the other hand, has made this one of the easiest and best relationships I've ever been in. The honesty was specified up front, the trust built on that, and we have been quite happy for over 7 years now.
We have found that intimacy and sex are not synonymous. We have both been in relationships where sex was a substitute for intimacy, and found them lacking. We have both been in abusive, controlling relationships, and found them to be unhappy and unhealthy. I have the (ahem) special privilege of having been on both sides of that, having been both the abuser and the abused, at various points in my life.