Sunday, October 1, 2023
HomeFashionThe Sexiest Part of an Open Relationship? The Rules

The Sexiest Part of an Open Relationship? The Rules

Whether open or monogamous, all relationships are defined by rules. Rules, promises, vows even. Now in a monogamous setup there’s usually only one rule: Don’t fuck or fall in love with or flirt or fool around with anyone who isn’t me. It’s an easy rule to follow. And it’s an easy rule to break.

In an open relationship, rules are a little different. Their contents, and your relationship to them as a couple, is open season. Now I’ve slept with people who are deeply strict about their rules; I’ve heard of people sharing Excel spreadsheets with new prospective partners detailing each and every rule they abide by; and I’ve heard of people with no rules whatsoever.

I fall in between: The rules of my relationship are evolving, the central ones being “try to welcome change” and “be generous.” It sounds really vague, but when applied to the other rules, it means we can have generous conversations about the unruliness of human emotions.

When my husband and I first went open, he and I had a “you can’t sleep with someone more than three times” rule. And it worked, for a while. But eventually I met someone who asked me on a fourth date. A fourth date on which I wanted to go. The sex was good, my emotions were in check, and he was fit. Of course, the fear of me leaving my partner after three dates—which is why we made the rule in the first place—now seemed completely absurd. Three dates versus nine years. And so when we talked about this fourth date, it seemed like a no-brainer. In fact it allowed us to be both realistic about what it was we’d built together, and the very real fear of one of us leaving the other.

A fourth date with Hot Guy turned into a whole summer, and while there was never any danger of my leaving my primary partner, the situation neared the edges of our next rule: “Don’t fall in love with anyone else.” And so, after many measured discussions (and some not so), I ended the relationship with Really Hot Summer Guy.

It was in this process of exploring, of stretching and bending the rules, that we formulated new rules in our relationship. We met each different feeling and emotion with our two central rules in mind: “be generous” and “try to welcome change.” Change takes time, and generosity takes understanding. And so we talked, we questioned, we fought a little, and we even went to bed angry. 



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