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How Do You Handle An Open Relationship? Ask A Slut!

How Do You Handle An Open Relationship? Ask A Slut!

Ask A Slut” is the column where we turn to sexually-liberated women to answer the tough questions about sex. We mean the kind of questions that that we can’t answer because we’re such good girls. We love our sluts, though, partly because we support the feminist fight against societal double standards. And also because good girls like sex, but we sometimes need helpful advice–and who better to ask than our sexual pioneers in the sisterhood…

Dear Slut,

I’m in a relationship with a guy that’s gotten more serious than I was expecting. That’s not really working out with my college dream of being sexually adventurous. I guess it’s no surprise that my boyfriend doesn’t really mind my interest in other women, and he’s even been okay with me making out with other guys–but I’m just trying to anticipate problems with starting my first open relationship. Any suggestions?

An open relationship is one of the scariest fantasies out there–ranging from staying healthy to keeping from raging over jealousy. Will it be your jealousy? Will it be your partner’s? And why endanger the rare kind of relationship where you can actually get the courage to even bring up an open relationship?

Well, we know one couple who’s made it work. That would be the husband-and-wife  team of Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson. These veteran sex educators are known for their Tantric workshops and completely realistic attitudes toward sleeping with other people. And the authors celebrated a very special Valentine’s Day with the release of the new Partners in Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy, and Long-Term Love.

It’s hard to believe that just one book could cover all the potential problems with an open arrangement–but Mark and Patricia have a mature and open outlook that connects all the dots back to a lasting and loving relationship. It means even more (and seems all the more realistic) coming from an actual couple–and we couldn’t imagine a better pair to take over the column right now…

Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson

Dear Just Trying to Anticipate,

The problems that people encounter in open relationships aren’t all that different from the problems people encounter in monogamous ones, but doing open relationships well usually requires more refined communication skills and greater awareness. Monogamy is our cultural default mode, and what many people don’t realize is that non-monogamy often leads to deeper and more fulfilling primary partnerships because it demands more – better communication, more honesty, and deeper thinking about sexuality, jealousy, attraction, trust and desire, to name a few.

We’re not big fans of the monogamy/non-monogamy or open/closed dichotomy and prefer to use the term “designer relationship”, which means you can set your own terms, make your own choices, and revise and refine them to suit your own circumstances. When you’re just starting out, it’s important to establish agreements and abide by them, something that is very valuable for building trust. We also encourage people to write a statement of purpose that outlines their motivations, desires, and goals. You can ask yourselves the following questions (from our book Partners in Passion):

1.  What do we love about our erotic relationship?
2.  Which of these qualities would we like to enhance?
3.  What values will we keep in mind as we explore?
4.  What do we hope to gain by doing this?
5.  How will we know that we are acting in accordance with our ideals?
6.  What are the things that make us uneasy about this exploration?
7.  How can we as a couple be sure that these concerns are not neglected?
8.  What steps will we take to recognize and manage discrepancies, feelings of being out of balance, and individual interests that the other does not share?

One additional observation: you describe your boyfriend as not minding your interest in other women and being “okay” with your making out with other guys. We think mutuality is very important and hope that he is enthusiastic, not merely tolerant. If you can treat your partnership as a shared, mutual sexual adventure, you will be able to live out your college dream while also developing a deep and erotically exciting long-term connection.

We follow Michael & Patricia via the official Partners in Passion Facebook page–and also on Twitter, of course.

To read previous Ask a Slut columns, click here!

If you would like to Ask a Slut a question of your own, submit it in our comments!!

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JRTCOLLEGECANDY Writer
J.R. Taylor has spent several years covering all aspects of pop culture for prestigious publications. Well, they were prestigious. Contact me: @google+ @twitter @email @website