This week’s column is based on a question from a reader and will be answered in two parts! Check back next week for the followup.
My husband and I just agreed to an open relationship and I’m such a newbie. How do I let people know I’m married without it being awkward, and where is a safe place (online or otherwise) to find people who might be interested in a sex-only relationship? What are good things to consider when it comes to my safety? I’ve never slept with someone I haven’t been in a relationship [with]!
There are so many things to consider when making a change in relationship structure, especially when you’re moving from the most normative to a stigmatized and often misunderstood relationship structure that doesn’t offer many visible, healthy models or examples in popular culture.
While I’m certain you’re both feeling excited about the new possibilities that await you within this new framework, it’s important to go slow and ensure that you’re mindfully setting parameters so that you’re both feeling safe and secure – both with your new sexual partners and in your relationship together.
There are so many ways to do open/non-monogamous/polyamourous relationships, and you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t sit right with you. You determine the way your own relationship goes and what feels right for you and your husband. A great guide and a resource that helps you explore all different kinds of non-monogamous relationship structures is Opening Up by Tristan Taormino. Reading it over alone will lead you through a lot of self-exploration and self-discovery that will make you ready to negotiate the terms of your relationship with your husband.
You’re probably going to want to think of things like how often you’ll feel comfortable sleeping with other people/your partner having sex with other people. You might need to negotiate which—if any—sex acts or intimate moments are only to remain between you two and what they can share.
Can you have sex with people that you both know? Should they only be strangers? Are you going to talk to each other about your encounters or are you going to remain more or less in the dark? What do you need personally to feel loved and desired? Are you going on dates or just having sex with your new partners? What will you do if one of you starts having feelings for someone you’re sleeping with? What health concerns do you have?
It’s a ton of stuff to think about, but getting out as many guidelines and ideas as possible before you start actually sleeping with other people—as well as committing to honest and open discussion about things you haven’t thought about as they come up—will help you to do whatever possible to avoid hurt and ensure pleasure and fun times!
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