The How-To Guide on Open Relationships
Adapted from an article by writer John Fall

 

The DON'T

Really, there is only one major Don't - Don't cheat, a rule that can be applied to two very different situations: don't cheat on your lover if you  have agreed to have a closed relationship and, if you have an open one, don't cheat on the rules the two of you have established for that arrangement.  This, of course, assumes that you have established and agreed upon  a set of rules - highly recommended.

Guys who secretly cheat on their ostensibly monogamous relationships, the ones who regurgitate the "I'd-never-look-at-another-person" line while carrying on a  clandestine affair or getting it in the park or at a motel, are the worst. These guys have no shame, at least not until they are caught. Then shame abounds.

Unless they have a regular rendezvous, these cheaters have to  create an elaborate system of chances, the hoped for opportunity being one for sex.  Even a man having an affair has to count on chance, mainly the chance that he will not be caught by his boyfriend.

Cheaters also  have to rationalize their lies to themselves in order to continue telling them. They have to believe that telling the person the truth would end the relationship and that a relationship based on lies is better than none at  all.  Or they need to think that secretly having sex with someone else is not dishonest.  Deception, at least in cases of adultery, never triumphs -- you cannot explain away crabs.

The other part of the  cheating Don't is for men who are in open relationships.  Each one is unique and has its own set of rules that the couple either established at the beginning or created as they went along. Don't unilaterally change  those rules.  If you have agreed never to sleep with common friends, don't do it before discussing it with your boyfriend.  If you have agreed not to have sex with other people in your home, don't do it  without asking him first.

In this cheating you will end up lying in some way about breaking the relationship rules or you will end up having to admit that you broke them.  Neither option is pleasant.  If you  want to try something outside of the rules, tell your partner.  If the open relationship is based on mutual agreement, it will only survive with mutual agreement regarding its evolution.

 

The  DO'S

Do have fun.  If you are not having fun with your open relationship, something's wrong.

Do tell your partner what you want; do listen to what he wants.  If you disagree with what he  wants, tell him so, and listen when he opposes what you want.

Do ask other men in open relationships about how they came to have one and what the "house rules" are regarding extramarital sex.  Their  experiences can go a long way in ensuring your success.    Men have an enduring curiosity about how couples create and maintain what to most Americans are extremely unorthodox unions, and the men in those unions  are usually eager to tell their stories.

The interesting part of devising an open relationship is in creating those house rules.  There are as many varieties of open arrangements as there are couples who have  them.  Some couples agree that anything goes.  Others may not allow any extramarital sex in the home or in the conjugal bed.  An agreement might involve both men being present for all sex with others - after all,  three ways involving both partners qualify as open relationships.  Some men must divulge all the details of their trysts; others are never asked.  Maybe certain sex acts are forbidden with others; maybe none  are.  Safe sex is often a requirement of outside tricking.  Occasionally, even extramarital love, as opposed to lust, is permitted.

There are infinite possibilities.  I know a couple that forbids either  partner from spending the night away from home.  Another gives each lover every Thursday night to pursue their lusts.  Still another involves one man having two boyfriends at once: he lives with one and visits the  other. 

The envelope can stand quite a bit of pushing and innovation.  If the arrangement works for you and your lover(s), have at it.  Know the limits and accepted them.  Instead of agreeing to  something you do not want, either negotiate a compromise, or, if necessary, walk.

Finally, do wear your promiscuity on your sleeve, and find a partner who does the same.  You have nothing to hide.  In the end,  it is only a big deal for people who have no room in their heads for difference.  For the rest of us, it's just life.