My husband and I have been together for about four years. We decided about two months ago to open our relationship to allow for casual sex with other guys. We’ve been mostly pretty happy in our monogamous world, but things have gotten a little stale in the bedroom, and we both felt that some flexibility would help us feel more satisfied. Here’s the scoop: When I’m meeting other guys, it doesn’t change my feelings for my partner, but when I envision him hooking up, all I can think is that they’ll fall madly in love and I’ll get dumped. I’ve been obsessing about this and it’s making me feel resentful every time I imagine he is out there with someone else. He seems totally fine with our new openness, and I feel stupid for feeling so hung up on this. How do I let this go and trust that everything will be okay??
Comparing yourself and your comfort level to that of your husband is going to drive you bonkers and isn’t really fair. If you’re going to seriously engage in an open relationship, the conversation will need to be ongoing. That will give both of you clarity about each other’s feelings—and those feelings will likely shift over time. Opening a relationship to address a sexual slump might be okay, so long as you are also considering whether an open arrangement really works for you personally. Is it your goal to stay in an open relationship forever? Is this a temporary experiment? Are you both approaching your extra-curricular activities in a similar way?
It took you four years to build a trusting monogamous relationship, so an open one will need time to develop. In a relationship we form attachments to our partners, and it’s always best when those bonds feel secure and dependable.
Opening the relationship for outside escapades is certainly stirring up your sense of safety—and that makes perfect sense.
In a monogamous relationship there are obviously still risks of betrayal or the possibility that one of you will fall in love with someone else. But in an open relationship, we have to face our fears of losing our partners in more tangible and ongoing ways.
It’s not your fault that adapting to an open dynamic is taking some time. We’ve been told repeatedly that monogamous relationships are somehow more loving and have greater integrity than open ones do. We also live in a culture of jealousy that can make it super difficult to trust that connections with our partners aren’t constantly under threat by their interactions with others.
If you continue to feel distressed, or even overly distracted by this new arrangement, it will be vital that you speak up and address any discomforts together. Otherwise, the relationship will suffer a fate that could be much worse than underwhelming sex.