I call my significant other, "my girlfriend." One of them anyway. The other one I call, "my husband." This language allows me to get away with a certain amount of ambiguity, to "pass" if you will. Once I say husband, it's assumed that, when I say "girlfriend," I'm using the Southern version of "friend who's a girl," no romance implied. But that's not what I mean. Nor do I mean anything dismissive or fleeting when I use that term. And so, I wonder, do I need a new word? If I do, what would it be? If not, what happens to a relationship that's not properly named?
Dan and Carrie give non-monogamy advice to a bisexual woman who wants a threesome with her best friend, but the best friend isn't attracted to the woman's overweight husband. "As I read through Karen's email a second time, and then a third, I noticed a certain passive aggressive sentiment that was hidden between the lines. For instance, Karen seemed to be singing her rotund husband's praises in one sentence, but then cutting him down in an understated, subtle sort of way in the next. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was dealing with a Classic Female Communication issue. In other words, Karen was clearly saying one thing, but insinuating something entirely different. In the end, Carrie and I decided to join together the best quotes from our conversation. Go ahead and look through Karen's email yourself, or simply scroll down to find out what Carrie and I had to say."
YourTango readers: When it comes to the subjects of polyamory and swinging and open relationships, what are you honestly, truly most curious about? Do you want to know more about the rules and boundaries Carrie and I have developed for our own sex lives? Do you want to learn about how and why we decided to open up our relationship in the first place? Do you want to know what our friends and families have to say about our situation? Do you want to read more about our plans for the future, like our upcoming "UnWedding," or the possibility that we may one day add a permanent third person to our relationship?
Carrie and I hadn't even been on the highway for an hour when the fighting started. We were in my little Honda Civic hatchback, puttering along I-76 East, en route to Baltimore. She'd been giving me a stone-faced version of the silent treatment, and even though I'd tried everything to get her to open up – begging, pleading, cajoling – I wasn't having any luck whatsoever. Occasionally I would get a sarcastic comment in response, or a mean-spirited laugh. I almost blame myself for what happened at the rest stop. I was opening the Honda's hatch to look for a sweater, and as I leaned deep inside the car, Carrie caught a quick glimpse of my boxers – specifically the elastic waistband that was peeking out from underneath my jeans.
Monogamy isn't for everyone, but for most of us, being with one person at a time is enough. You may know someone in an open relationship or non-monogamous marriage, you may have even flirted with the idea yourself, but chances are you decided it wasn't for you. That's what Nerve writer Naomi H. Lane thought, too, until she fell for two friends at the same time, and they were both already dating each other. This is a threesome like you've never seen before.
Jenny Block answers your questions about open marriage. I'm in an open marriage and my new book, Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage is hitting the shelves as we "speak." That's the short of it. You can read the full story right here on the Tango website. First, there's the piece called "Portrait of an Open Marriage" that was actually the inspiration for the book. And then there's the follow-up piece that I wrote two years later called "Portrait of an Open Marriage.
Opening Up stresses the importance of self-awareness, communication, honesty, trust and boundaries in open relationships advice that applies to any relationship, really, be it with one or many. Debauchette, a non-monogamous blogger made famous via New York magazine and a Diane Sawyer interview, captured this concept in a recent post: I don't know many happy monogamous couples, but I don't know many happy polyamorous or open couples either. It just leads me to conclude that relationships aren't easy, that we need to figure out what works for us, individually, that we need plenty of experience to make those determinations.
Can men be monogamous? Scientists and social scientists contend that there is a genetic disposition against monogamy. And point to the fact that most of the animal kingdom cavorts with multiple partners. Even the faithful swan can change its mind. Outlook: not so good.
In the vast majority of instances, those of us involved in open relationships are by no means swinging naked from the chandeliers at all hours of the day and night. We are not diving headfirst into a writhing group orgy every Friday and Saturday after work. We are not necessarily in the practice of shagging perfect strangers in the men's room of a dark-lit club. In fact, being in an open partnership hasn't been about random sex so much as it's been an incredibly intense emotional education.