Open Season

The gays are asking: should I ask my partner about opening up the relationship?

Even if your current partner is everything you’ve ever dreamed of, it’s possible that you’re still dreaming of extra-curricular sex with the perfect stranger. And you know what? That’s ok! There’s nothing wrong with having feelings and desires for other people: but you do owe your partner a frank discussion about the fact.

These days, the idea of opening up your relationship carries far less stigma than it did in previous years. But having that initial conversation with your partner can be tricky, as one Redditor recently found out.

“I and my boyfriend have been together for 8 years; I love him still but in it’s current form our relationship has become a distance one,” a poster wrote recently on Reddit. “He’s also under quite a lot of pressure and doesn’t want to have sex because of the anxiety.”

This Redditor went on to explain that he felt like his physical needs weren’t being met, so he asked his boyfriend if they could open up the relationship to solve this problem. The boyfriend agreed, but didn’t seem too thrilled about it. “I feel guilty without being sure why,” the poster said, explaining that they haven’t hooked up with anyone yet, but are interested in pursuing sex outside the relationship.

We’ve all probably been in a situation similar to this one: we’re in a loving relationship, but our needs aren’t being attended to, and we feel like something needs to change.

Other Redditors had quite a bit to say on this topic. While one poster confirmed that there’s noting wrong in principle with an open relationship, they warned that “if you are only opening it because you’re growing apart and are no longer satisfied, this is just a step that will further the divide.”

True enough. “Both must agree on boundaries, circumstances, occasions and priorities,” another poster wrote. “Communication is critical. My open partnership works for us, because we talk and joke about it. The key for us is our committment to support each other, letting the other know details and answering any questions.”

Communication is a huge part of making polyamory work: as long as everyone is on the same page and no one is being lied to, there’s no reason why opening up the relationship should be a hindrance to intimacy.

Another Redditor opened about their own experiences and gave some good guidance to our original poster, stating: “This is a tricky path to navigate, open relationships are hard unless both parties in the relationship are enthusiastically prepared to open up.”

“If you want to have sex on the side, that’s one thing,” one poster said. “But if you’re wanting a full-blown romance on the side, it’s probably best to just call it quits. That’s just not fair to the person you propose bringing into your drama. Nobody wants to be somebody’s sloppy second, or beta to their “real relationship,” especially if your current partner is given veto power.”

That’s an important point, and one that bears stressing: opening the relationship up to sex is one thing, while pursuing other romantic connections is another. Some posters stressed the importance of making sure the other partner really is okay with opening things up.

“My partner became extremely passive aggressive and cruel over time,” they explained. “You expressed your needs and gave him a chance to open up about how he thinks you could work through it together. Tread lightly and think deeply about what you really want and where you and this man really are in your relationship.”

So the TL;DR is basically: do a vibe check first. If you’re in a great place in your relationship and you want to open things up, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be a discussion. But if it’s a last-ditch attempt to create intimacy in an already-troubled relationship, you might be better off breaking things off and pursuing love and sex on your own terms.

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