Open relationships challenge any couple’s zone of comfort and daily routine. Even in case you know the ins and outs of arranging things for two, open relationship implies daring their rearrangement for three and more participants.
We interview couples in open relationships to learn their experience, share it with the blog readers and practice new knowledge in our own life. Pilgrims into the world of open relationships, we enjoy learning the best practices of other travelers and as well as concepts of local permanent residents.
Kate and Mark are partners in open marriage. Here is their brief of difficulties they face on the way to opening their marriage to additional partners. They believe three basic challenges of open relationship to be:
The said triad of problems is an obstacle on the way to opening relationships, but Kate and Mark have shared their formulas of avoiding tricky situations.
Kate: “Speaking about jealousy is rather my business, since even in our early years I didn’t see Mark showing any signs of it. Mark is 10 years my senior, so by his 38 his had learnt living without it.
Though I was the first who initiated turning our relationship open, I was also the first to set on the jealousy mode. The girl I was jealous for was neither better nor smarter than me. It was a mere happenstence. Our lover just happened to be in good mood when I was in the blues. So they were having sex with Mark while I was feeling sore about some minor office issue.
I responded by getting a miff, and I was about to ask Mark first to consider my mood the next time he decides on having sex with somebody else. But they left me alone for some long while that was enough not only to get my monkey up, but to calm it down and think things over as well.
The remedy came in form of reminiscences. I recalled a situation of a friend who went to a swingers’ club on the day her boyfriend left for his grandma funerals. It took me long to stop laughing about absurdity of his grievance, and now I was holding a grudge about a thing that was even less serious. Indeed, you are always the one who opts whether for suffering or for enjoying time with a partner. So this doubt was rather an easy task for me to solve.
What remained however was the jealousy of comparison, and it stayed with me for some other weeks. She is happy, I am sad, and she is the one whom Mark chose. Does it mean she is better than me? Shall things always be like this? It made me wonder whether I get less attractive for a man who sees someone excelling me. Thinking over my losses in the situation I made a list of the issues we had between us and the reasons of why we are together:
His being not with me at the moment I was out of my mood did not change anything of the listed. So it does not mean that I suddenly lost my good looks and spirit, and there was no reason for self-punitive thoughts.
But why being not the most desired woman in the room makes it so distressing? What makes us want to be the one? My searching for the answer was a success. I understood I wanted to be with them at that moment, but I didn’t know how to ask them to let me in. My low mood made me forget the skill of being seductive. Having considered things from this point, I found myself to be out of jealousy.”
Mark: “Even thinking about the idea of turning relationships open as proposed by Kate was a tough job for me. Probably because I had an objective understanding of the things and knew that a shift into being in an open relationship is not a piece of cake. Like every other woman, she enjoys and admires new things, and just like a cat she is ready to investigate everything unknown. I think it was the feline instinct than incited her approaching the couple boundaries and trying to extend them.
My first idea was: I say yes so that she plays around the idea and renounces it. But my conscious mind was there in good time to notice my fear of losing everything we’d got between us during our five years together—a thick steel rope of mutual desires, mileage of experience and plans for the future. This is how I feel about the bond between us. On the one hand, tearing a rope like this is challenge. On the other hand, we were about to hang on this rope over the abyss of unknown.
My thinking and doubting was mixed up with reading, both of “serious” works as well as popular articles on open relationship challenges. One day I came across an article on penicillin. If the inventor of penicillin had ignored his interest, people would have stayed without antibiotics. I recalled my parents who never took to stop me from getting into risky situations, be it first business or a solitary journey in my 18. If they had, they wouldn’t have to worry about the son. But this would have definitely killed my catlike instinct once and for all.
So I sat to write down a detailed plan. What is the point we intend to get to, when and where do we stop? We had discussed everything before we started. And we have never regretted it. Our plan does not stop us. I say it rather helps taking choice at the moment of doubts. Open relationships are a complex journey with a load of unknown variables. This journey requires a comprehensive plan designed for contingencies only :).”
Kate: “Why do I think this to be a problem? I have more than once heard my friends breaking up with their boyfriends and throwing curses and blames on them. Boyfriends, by the way, were giving tit for tat. And it occurred to me that if they had tried to solve problems independently, there would’ve been no peeve coming up. When you know that you’ve done or have failed to do everything that you could, you have no one there to blame. I was lucky to have a very early experience of solving my problems on my own so I’m used to shifting for myself only. But even in this case I sometimes feel the temptation of asking Mark to sort out some uncomfortable situation instead of me.”
Mark: “Kate is very impulsive. When it comes up to something she really wants, she is unstoppable. As to me, I respect her choice. When started sorting out her business and her mood independently, she turned a more careful eye to things and feelings of people around. She knows whom she wants to deals with, thus she never unburies the “this is your fault” hatchet at home.
My story is even shorter; it is related to my job. I once made a career just because the rest of my colleagues were busy searching for the guilty. I don’t want to lose our relationships in blaming. I want to be the best at home as well, to be the family biggest boss:). Thus I take responsibility for my mood and my problems by solving them alone.”
An open relationship advice given by one couple is not a cure-all for the rest of the world. Posting it here does not mean we suggest you snap into copy-pasting life of people you don’t know. This publication is a precedent that may help you answer the questions “do open relationships work?” and “what is it being in an open relationship?”, as well as see a variety of solutions in situations some people think to have no way out.
The open relationship advice that we take home from the story of Kate and Mark to practice in our own life tells us the following:
- never compare yourself to others;
- listen to your desires before holding a grudge;
- don’t cling on to what you have in fear of new things that may happen;
- take a firm hold of your ill humor with your strong or delicate hands.
We hope they shall help us meet the challenges of our relationships.