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?
Jenny Blocks answers the question "Where do you find people to seduce?" So you and your partner have decided to embark on an open relationship. You've talked about it and thought about it and considered all of the ways it might work – and not work – and decided that you're both interested in giving it a try. That's when the second most frequent question I get arises. Dear Jenny: We're ready to try opening our relationship. But where do you find people to seduce? Best, Open to Something New
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.
Is traditional marriage really on its last legs these days? Hell, I don't know. But I do know this: Ideas and suggestions for couples interested in an alternative to life-long monogamy seem to be all around us in the 21st century. I think that's a good thing, and I think it's an honest way to begin a life-long partnership.
Kind of like drinking or driving underage, part of having sex outside of a committed relationship is the thrill that comes with doing something illicit. Cue Tango's favorite therapist Esther Perel and other experts hoping to pull marriage's reputation out from under its passionless, restrictive shell through greater communication and understanding. Weiss quotes one friend who says: “Do middle-aged, married women who are no longer interested in having sex with their husbands expect them to remain faithful?" The response, according to American mores, is "yes," though this is at odds with biology. Evolutionary biology's poster child should be the transgender man quoted in the article, who underwent a sex change after 50 years as a woman. He told Weiss that since taking testosterone supplements, he's noticed "a newfound ability to completely divorce sexuality from emotional commitments."
A husband and a girlfriend? An unconventional arrangement that works. "I want you to kiss me," she said. Funny she should use those words when they so closely echoed mine more than ten years ago. "I want to kiss you," I had said to my then best friend Sophie Anne. "Me too," Sophie Anne had said to me then. "Are you sure?" was what I said to Jemma, the girl who was now requesting that I do something that I imagined could change a lot of things for a lot of people. Of course, I never could have known then just how much change it would mean.
If it weren't for the rules, and the willingness of two people to respect each other by following those rules, alternative relationships would simply self-destruct. It would be relationship anarchy. Occasionally, the rules are even broken. And sometimes that's ok, too. After all, every hook-up is different than the one that came before, and so with that in mind, all romantic and sexual encounters should probably be judged independently of one another.
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.
Hollywood rarely depicts sex accurately: near-instantaneous, always-simultaneous orgasms? Sheets that conceal only naughty bits? But they get at least one thing right: the act is often hot and the aftermath is often messy. And that's not even getting into polyamory or open marriage. Even the most fun threeway can wind up as complicated as Y Tu Mama Tambien or Wild Things. That Ky Henderson advises you set terms of a threesome to try to save feelings of jealousy and self-loathing and unpleasant realities like sexually transmitted disease and social stigma.