Dick Richards examines the ins and outs of open relationships including honesty, jealousy and competitiveness, and wonders if more is less?
It’s a persuasive argument… the ability to have some fun on the side, to spice up one’s life, to do things sexually that maybe your partner isn’t up for. That’s all sounds great if it were that easy. It’s gotta be asked… if open relationships work so well, why are there so many single gay men? I mean you get the best of both worlds. You have a partner you come home to and get to live life with, and you get casual hook-ups. And with some of us, the latter becomes quite addictive. Open relationships are not for everyone and that’s ok.
But what’s the risk? The obvious one to me is the possibility for emotions to get involved and you end up falling for the person you’re ‘just fucking’ – which I’ve heard, time and time again. STI’s is another. One that isn’t so obvious is competition, stemmed from jealousy.
It takes a certain type of person to be able to be in an open relationship. You have to be confident in yourself and in the relationship. Being honest and sticking to the rules is extremely important. Being open sounds progressive and limitless, but for an open relationship to work, there are rules. Rules you make with your partner and rules you have to follow out of respect and love. If you’re not able to stick within the boundaries you and your partner make – it’s not for you.
Comparisons. We all do it. Even the most confident do it. When you look at someone or their life and feel like you’re lacking – you know, you’ve done it. But when we begin to question our value and attractiveness caused by the actions of our partner, it becomes problematic. Working on yourself is never a problem when it’s instigated by self-awareness and self-love. But when it’s spawned from insecurity and jealousy that’s a massive problem. It sounds so obvious I know, but I’ve seen it in so many relationships.
Open relationships have the potential for toxic competition. That’s not news. When there are more than two people involved sexually or emotionally there are always going to be comparisons. Who’s got the bigger dick? Was he hotter than me? Was he better than me? Was he tighter? Was he taller? Was he cut? Was he hairier? Did you cum inside you?
Basically, you’re asking, “Where am I lacking?” If you’ve ever asked those questions, I’m sorry. You should never have to feel like you’re not enough in a relationship. Everything you do to yourself should be spurred by you, not someone else. Eating healthy, going to the gym, having goals, even sex, should be self-referred and not because of the effects of an open relationship.
I know of a lot of great open relationships that work well, and I know a lot that seem to be on the road to break-up-ville! I think the ones that work well are the ones that are honest with the motivation behind it. You have to look deep inside yourself and ask some hard questions. Do I want to be in a relationship and all that entails? Do I just want to fuck lots of men? Am I addicted to sex and getting value from it? Am I scared of commitment? Or am I just plain scared?
Jealousy has been called ‘the green-eyed monster’ and it can eat any of us if we’re not careful. And when he becomes the third wheel, we need to take a moment and show him the door. That takes courage, empathy and an open heart.