The musings of a juggling mother

Rants & raves about life as a woman today, juggling work, home, kids, family, life the universe & everything.

© Mrs Aginoth. The right of Mrs Aginoth to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Open relationships

OK, i've been meaning to throw this one out into the blogosphere for ages, but other stuff kept coming up, but following a comment discussion on Cyberkittens blog, i thought I really ought to get on with it....

I was chatting to my sister a while ago and she mentioned how she recently met a colleague that she hadn't seen for nearly 10 years. they got chatting, and as you do, she asked if he was still with the same girl. he said yes, they were married now, and it was absolutely fantastic. Then he gave her "a look" and said it was an open relationship. she declined, but asked about how it worked, as she hadn't thought the relationship to be particularly stable 10 years ago. he agreed that it was quite shaky to start with, when they had a monogamous marriage, but after two years they took a break from each other, then got back together again & that's when they decided to have an open relationship. It's been fantastic ever since. Their partnership is based on friendship, trust, similar interests, conversation topics, doing stuff together etc. the sex is good, but they both like to shag other people too. there is no deceit involved for any of the parties, and everyone is happy.

Hmmm, we all said when she recounted this story. I reckon he just wanted to screw you:-) But no, she checked it out with wife, who agreed it was all above board & okay by her.

Then we talked about the idea. All the girls there could see the attraction of open relationships. It needn't take anything away from your partnership, but could easily add to it - either by taking off some pressure from the partner with a lower sex-drive, or just by keeping the sex fresh & new, or indeed, just to have some "me time" and flattery every now & then:-)

All the blokes were absolutely against the idea. They felt that "sharing" was somehow sullying them. Either by insinuating they weren't good enough in bed for their wife, or by some wierd concept of "used goods" being dirty (although most of them accepted their girlfriends were not virgins whe n they got together, and that was OK somehow).

So I wondered, was this a gender issue? Marriage & monogamy has always been presented as the female ideal, with men wanting to move on as soon as they can. (Actually, I did get the impression that most of the blokes were not against the idea of adultery - for themselves, not heir partners! How hypocritical is that? )

In this day of pregnancy control, and with so many children being brought up adults other than their genetic parents, does monogamy still have any relevance?

Having re-read this post, it seems to be saying something I didn't mean it to say, so, remembering that both my husband and mother-in-Law read this blog, I thought I'd better clarify.

When I say the girls could all see the advantages to open relationships, that does not mean we were all desperate to start one - just that we could see why some people would want them, while the men had difficulty understanding that anybody (except a "pervert) would allow that kind of thing to go on.


  • At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 12:41:00 pm, Blogger Vics said…

    I guess it all depends on how you view sex. If it's 'just sex' and you can quite happily hump away without getting your emotions entangled then well and good, i'm not one of those people.

    I have platonic friends with whom I share interests and my partner with whom I share interests and my bed. it's what puts the relationship beyond friendship to me.

  • At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 1:47:00 pm, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said…

    I'm a hopeless monogamist. Intimacy is just too private, and well, initimate for me to think of being with more than one person. I have been asked multiple times for one on ones and even a threesome. Um, why thank you for considering me, for, um, such a position. How uncomfortable for me! To me, the relationship I have with my partner is like a fortress. It's ours, special, private, secure and no one else is allowed behind our walls. It's safe, non-threatening. There is no jealousy or insecurity, there's a level of trust that is hard to attain, and I can't imagine having that remain intact if another person were present. I know couples that have open relationships and they say it works fine for them. I'm on the outside looking in and what I see in their relationships is a lot more friction and drama, not present in my own relationship. Maybe they need the drama and excitment, me, I like calm waters. As for children in the mix, I believe they need routine and stability that comes from a set, solid family unit. I know when my ex was dating the kids were bothered by a new face every so often. It took over a year after he remarried for the kids to let down their guard a little and begin to accept that this newest woman would be sticking around. Mind you, this is just my observation and what I believe based on my own experiences, I'm sure there are plenty of examples out there of open relationships that work well with stable homes for the children. :-)

  • At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 4:18:00 pm, Blogger CyberKitten said…

    Interesting that it seemed to split down gender lines - but I would've guess that the results would've been opposite to what you found.

    Personally I absolutely hated sharing my ex-girlfriend.... Not my most happy memories I can tell you.....

  • At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 6:29:00 pm, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said…

    Perhaps this will be shocking, coming from me, but I think open relationships can work just fine, as in the case you describe. But I think it will only succeed in a small minority of cases.

    I agree with Vancouver Voyeur, that parents of small children should give it a miss. To have an open relationship is to take risks, and we shouldn't take those risks where our children may pay the consequences.

    I don't think the risks are primarily emotional, because I think people can distinguish a "for sex" relationship from the total partnership they have with a spouse.

    But having multiple sex partners carries a physical health risk. It also requires an investment of time, energy, and money, that might be better invested in one's small children.

    I also think it would be a mistake to take this step where a relationship was already in trouble. In most cases, contrary to the case you describe, I think that would just add to the centrifugal forces pulling the couple apart.

    As for the male/female difference — it's male ego and insecurity, plain and simple. Men know that sex can be purely physical when they do it. They fear that it will be more than that if their female partners do it. Not many men can rise above that mindset.

  • At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 6:31:00 pm, Blogger snaars said…

    I like what V. Voyeur said about trust, and about the kids needing stability. I'm sure that "open" couples would say that if you do things right there are no problems. Perhaps that's true, so I won't pass a moral judgement. I only know what seems to work for me and my marriage.

    The sex act strngthens and reinforces the emotional attachment I have toward my wife. Some things we share only with each other: certain opinions, plans, jokes, parenting responsibilities - and sex. Sex is one of the ways we communicate our feelings toward one another. If one of us were to start doing that with some other person, then it would make the relationship less special. In fact, it would be hurtful.

    On the other hand, I can understand that if someone views sex as just something to do that feels good, then it makes sense to have an open relationship. But, I'm not one of those people. I don't think the relationship I have with Mrs. Snaars would be possible if either of us had that attitude.

  • At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 8:06:00 pm, Blogger Mary P. said…

    Interesting. I think an open relationship can work, and I can see the attraction. I think for me it would be the element of surprise, which doesn't exist in the same way with a long-term partner. The fun of the chase, the treat of being wooed. All very frivolous, I know, but there's a place for frivolity in life!

    (I'm not sure what relevance the small children have to it, in honesty, because my assumption would be the children would be unaware of it. You wouldn't be bringing your "extra" HOME to shag... Would you?)

    I agree with Snaars that sex with your life partner strengthens the bond between you - because that's the nature of the relationship. When a relationship is light and recreational, so is the sex. Yes, there's a risk that you might fall in love with the "extra" person with whom you're having sex. However, I don't think sex magically, automatically turns a frivolous relationship into something deep and meaningful. If that were the case, people would always marry the first person they had sex with.

    Thanks for such an interesting post!

  • At Thursday, April 27, 2006 6:30:00 pm, Anonymous Nanny A said…

    You could no more find the time as find the energy. But seriously DinL. I think women in their thirties are often quite tempted to see if they still have what it takes(believe me I talk from experience).

  • At Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:09:00 pm, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    It was an interesting dicussion, not a wish for myself:-) Honestly - more sex is the last thing on my mind right now;-)

  • At Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:31:00 pm, Blogger Aginoth said…

    No More Babies !!!

  • At Saturday, April 29, 2006 12:53:00 am, Blogger used*to*be*me* said…

    My husband and I had this conversation. Seems the men in our circle were all for it and the women against. I'm against. I'm way to jealous for that type of arrangment.

  • At Sunday, April 30, 2006 10:12:00 pm, Blogger Kerwin said…

    It is about self esteem and loyalty. Those who go for open relationships have low self esteem and less loyalty. A man can have a close friend who is another man and then go and have sex with multiple female partners. Does that mean that man is a homosexual. A woman or man who allows themselves to be treated that way is like an old shirt the other does not want to discard.

  • At Friday, May 19, 2006 9:37:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We are a young couple who has been together for about 8 years and are in our mid to late twenties. We love each other and have a beautiful two year old girl. However, it has become apparent in the last cople of years that we are simply better suited as best friends than as lovers. We have not been intimate in nearly two years, and are starting to think about seeing other people. We want to keep our family together and raise our daughter equally. Our idea is to live together as friends and family. I know this could get complicated but we are really over each other. Yet, we can't imagine life apart. Any thoughts? Is this totally crazy??? (Yes, we've been to counselling)

  • At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 3:03:00 pm, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    Anon - personally, I do not see that there is any problem with what you are proposing. As long as both partners understand exactly what is agreed, and ground rules are put in place (I think I'd go with "not in the family home" as there are children there - but it depends on the type of relationship you are intending to persue).

    I think your daughter will grow up perfectly secure in the knowledge that both her parents love her & want to be actively involved in her childhood, without being a "couple", and without doubt, the friendship is the most important part of living with anyone long term.

    However, I would forsee that in the long term either you or your partner (or both) will find alternative partners who you wish to settle down with, and so I am not sure how sustainable it would be. Although I do know of one couple who still live together in the same house, with their respective partners, and the kids....

    You will have to discuss it & decide for yourselves, obviously, but I would not consider "contracting out" sex to be a solution for you really. Perhaps you should think about accepting reality, having an amicable split, and moving on with your own lives, still as good friends, but not as pretend partners.


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