An Excerpt from Open All the Way: Confessions From My Open Marriage April 14, 2011

An Excerpt from Open All the Way: Confessions From My Open Marriage

“Sexie” Sadie Smythe has been writing stories about her open marriage for a couple years now on her website (NSFW). She’s also been telling them at BedPost Confessions, an event she hosts and organizes in Austin, TX. She’s honest, reflective, and a direct threat to anyone who thinks marriage must be a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Her new book is called Open All the Way: Confessions From My Open Marriage and an excerpt is below. It features swinging Unitarian Universalists — How can you resist reading it?!

Back then we didn’t know much at all about what an open marriage even looked like. It was 1995 and while one of the handfuls of clunky search engine robots might have unearthed a small smattering of information on the subject of open relationships, fact gathering in such a way wasn’t yet a part of the cultural wheelhouse. We didn’t know anyone that was in an open marriage, and if we did, we were never made aware of it. Non-traditional relationship arrangements weren’t broadcast at dinner parties, or discussed on daytime talk shows, or in any other place where hetero-normative attitudes prevailed. And hetero-normative attitudes were status-fucking-quo. We only knew the general concept of open relationships based on stories we’d heard about the sixties’ free-love movement, diluted accounts that had been highlighted in documentaries and featured in liner notes of select record albums. Or from tales of swinging key parties circa late seventies and early eighties; tales handed down by parents and other sources whose biases were questionable.

For instance, during my early childhood in North Carolina, where we lived for a few years, my father had unwittingly placed our family amid a blissful congregation of spirited swingers in the Unitarian Universalist Church. He loved the church and its members for their open door policy and free-spirited attitudes, so much so that he and my mother decided to enroll me in kindergarten class on weekday mornings. But little did he know just exactly how free-spirited these Universalists actually were. Nor was he aware that accidentally uncovering their radical non-conformity would challenge his own interpretation of what being open-minded actually was. Because while my mother knew at the outset (and how she knew is something she claims not to remember,) my father did not know that the people they worshiped with on Sunday mornings, the beatific new-age folks who taught my sisters and me in our Spiritual School classes, and perhaps even my kindergarten teacher, were all fucking each other. And upon his discovery of this, that the people he had come to know and respect had an entirely different definition of Unity, he pulled us out of the Church about as fast as he could say,

Peace, liberty and sex for all!

And my family never went to church again.

It makes you wonder how many non-traditional couples go to church at all… surely, there’s even an Evangelical megachurch somewhere attended by a couple (wrong word choice?) that’s polyamorous or also open with their marriage. We already know the stories of some pastors who have gay lovers on the side

Let’s do one more excerpt…

I grew up not nurturing fantasies of a white wedding, a picket fence, and happily ever after, but instead with an established presumption that I would never get married. Or have kids. I was, quite obviously, wrong on both counts.

I’ve always maintained, even before I was able to rationalize my attitude about it, that it’s kind of odd the way our culture sets us up for marriage: two people, often still essentially in the toddlerhood of their lives (in their twenties) decide to partner forever with a person they truly believe they will always love or at least will always remain committed to. Always. And for most people, this Always time-frame translates into fifty, sixty, sometimes even seventy years. Only 100 years ago, the lifespan of a human being was around fifty years, so getting married young didn’t constitute such a long-term commitment. In fact, people got married in their teens back then, but even still, they were only looking at thirty-odd years together.

But even thirty years is a long-fucking-time!

The church claims to hold ownership over the construct of marriage. Which is why marriage in its current state excludes a sizable segment of the population. The discriminating purveyors of the current marriage decree have marginalized an important set of people — gays and lesbians — who are not only deserved of the right to pledge their love but should also be entitled to the exact same benefits that taking that pledge garners their heterosexual counterparts. The fact that our culture continues to proclaim marriage’s powerful credibility to the degree that we limit access to its advantages is downright laughable. Or at least it would be if it weren’t so fucked up.

The fact is that everyone, everyone, should be given the opportunity to design their relationships according to the specifications of those involved. All should be authorized to draw up their very own relationship plans and put them into action.

And so that’s what we did.

Sadie’s been happily married to her husband Scott for 14 years now and they have a daughter who’s 11. Sounds like they’re doing something right 🙂

If you’d like to win a copy of Sadie’s new book, just leave your thoughts about marriage in the comments! Please include the word “Sexie” at the end of your comment to be in the running — You don’t have to live in America to win this one. I’ll contact the winner via email next week.

A few discussion points:

Do relationships have to be monogamous in order to work?

For those of you who attended church at some point, did you ever know couples who were in a non-traditional relationship? How did they reconcile their faith with their “unbiblical” marriage?

For anyone in a non-traditional relationship, are you open about it? To whom?

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  • Laura

    I was once with friends, I asked if they believed you could love more than one person at a time (they said, no). As far as I can see, a strong relashionship can bear accessory relashionships, as long as the partners are happy with it. The problem is the traditional idea of love, to which we are always encouraged to stick. I believe teenagers should never be allowed to listen to popular love songs, by the way.


  • Zac

    In regards to the first one, apparently not. For most though, I imagine it does. I certainly wouldn’t be able to handle a poly-amorous relationship. One thing that annoys me is that most of the non-monogamous people I’ve communicated with have been extremely derisive of monogamous relationships.

  • Kristina

    I’ve tried open relationships, where my partner and I are the primary; those who wished to join in(or are wished to join in) have to have a week’s warning. Unfortunately, given that I’ve met people who work well in a “non-traditional” relationship, it never worked for me, trust always came up as an issue. We were not in any kind of church, but we tended to keep it to ourselves as we felt that we’d be judged unduly for our stance. I am now married in a firmly monogamous relationship and find that while I worry at times over our relationship it works better if we stay monogamous for now. Again, that is not to say that I think it’s a bad idea, just that if it’s going to be done, EVERYONE has to be open and honest. There really is no “innocent flirting”.

  • idfriendly

    I find one relationship at a time challenging enough. Still, I listen to Dan Savage and am curious about people who live a non-monogamous lifestyle. I’ll probably read this book, but don’t foresee myself trying to convince my wife we need to open our marriage. I have the same questions about polyamory that I have about polygamy: where does a married man with kids find the time and energy to actually do it with multiple partners. “It” meaning whatever you want “it” to mean. One of the benefits of monogamy is that you don’t have to date any longer–I think people forget the pain in the ass it can be to actually be looking for a partner–and I just can’t imagine continuing the swinging singles lifestyle after marriage is as enjoyable as it’s made out to be. To each his own–do what makes you happy–but this isn’t for me.

  • Grimalkin

    I don’t understand open and poly relationships. I can understand intellectually that it works for some people, and I can certainly respect people who choose it for themselves, it’s just so far from my reality that I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like or how it would work.

    I’ve always been monogamous. Even in my early teens, I was completely devoted to Sean Connery and that was that. No other fantasy would do.

    The most important thing, I think, is to find someone who is of the same disposition. My husband is just as monogamy-minded as I am, so we work well together. But I imagine that a couple in which one is set towards monogamy and the other towards polygamy would just be doomed form the start…


  • Do relationships have to be monogamous in order to work?

    Clearly not. For many people it does seem to be the preferred option though. I’ve been monogamously involved with a wonderful woman for 19 years and couldn’t be happier. I’m not averse to having sex with other people (she isn’t) but it would break the trust that we have, so I don’t. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

  • Elle

    My high school was a) Quaker and b) full of openly gay and bisexual teachers. So yes, I did attend a “church” with untraditional marriages. Though I think at least one teacher felt referring to Meeting for Worship as church was inaccurate; which I can see, in my experience church is some how more boring than sitting and thinking for an hour in silence.
    Anyway, the quakers seemed to have zero problems with untraditional marriages, and one of our teachers actually had a quaker ceremony to marry her wife, with a good portion of the school attending the wedding.
    Needless to say I went to college with an unusual impression of the protestant view of marriage and sexuality. I thought the religious right was something Comedy Central made up for laughs. Sigh.


  • Susara

    I’m with idfriendly; once you have kids – where on earth do you get the time, energy and opportunity carry on an ‘it’?

    In general I’m puzzled by logistics of non-monogamy assuming children are around. Do you phone your spouse to ask to please move to the guest bedroom you’re bringing someone home tonight? Does your spouse get to stand up for all three kids that night to give you and the new guy some privacy? Does mr/ms get to slip out the next morning before your kids see them? Or do you simply tell your kids that mommy and daddy are shagging around?

    More seriously; what happens when someone falls pregnant? Do people agree beforehand what happens in that case?

  • Staci

    I think the key point is that relationships only have to be monogamous in order to work…IF that is important to you. It’s all based on the individual relationship. Just being monogamous in and of itself does not a successful relationship make. By the same token, an open relationship with the right people can thrive.

    It’s all about the individuals and their value system, expectations and choices.

  • “Do relationships have to be monogamous in order to work?”

    That question is based on the premise that monogamous relationships work.

    That being said, I’ve always thought of the marriage (been married 17 years) contract like a rental agreement. A couple may place whatever clauses they want into the union as long as they both agree.


  • Tod

    Kudos to her for addressing this subject. Monogamy is NOT a requirement for a successful, committed marriage or relationship. That’s what the church would have you believe.

    I would bet that there are MANY successful, happy, and very committed marriages out there that are “Open.” They may be people you know.

    They don’t come to light due to fear of rejection from friends, family. More importantly to some, would be the fear (supported by examples from the news) that these families may face legal difficulties if overzealous prosecutors and child welfare authorities attempt to take their kids away based upon church-taught morality.


  • AxeGrrl

    The sane, thoughtful comments above are the reason that I love this space 🙂 (in addition to Hemant’s posts, of course)

    I’ll express what everyone else has so far ~ the people involved in a relationship establish ‘what’ the relationship is. If an arrangement truly makes all participants involved happy, what more needs to be said?


  • I agree completely with the author. I don’t think there is sufficient evidence to say polygamy is bad for society. I picture something similar to Sam Harris’s moral landscape. In the past groups with polygamy ideology had and still have oppressive behaviors, but was that because of polygamy or because they are oppressive assholes? It seems like there can be plenty of peaks in this moral landscape where allowing polygamy can improve everyone’s standard of living. It’s unfortunate that it takes centuries to create social change, and even then it can easily regress (e.g. the interracial relationship poll in Mississippi).


  • Matt

    I’ve been in a relationship with my girlfriend for 10 years now, and we’ve been successfully open for 8 of them. I’m sorry to hear that there are some people who live the lifestyle who are derisive of monogamy. Just as we expect to be left to live our happy lifestyle, we certainly don’t begrudge anyone else theirs.

    Though, for all of you saying that you couldn’t handle it, don’t sell yourself short. The key to making it work is trust. I trust that my girlfriend loves me and will continue to do so, despite spending intimate time with others. I often wonder if those who don’t think it’s the lifestyle for them say so because they don’t have that trust or if they are simply blissful in their existence. I most definitely hope the latter.

    I’d be happy to answer any questions:
    prov[take this out]

    Lastly, we’re open with almost all of our friends. It hasn’t been an issue for many. Even my parents know.


  • JulietEcho

    I’ve been in a polyfidelitous (closed) relationship for almost five years now. The three of us are family, and if poly marriage were allowed, we’d tie the knot with all three partners. Our families all know, and guess what? The two non-religious families are accepting and include us as a normal family, and the religious family (mine) compared our consensual, adult relationship to pedophilia and refuses to have contact with or acknowledge my boyfriend, even after knowing about us for two years.

    I’m sure I could find an accepting church (there’s a large poly-acceptance movement within UU and liberal Quakers are probably A-okay with it too), but as atheists, none of the three of us are currently interested in a church community. The church I grew up in condemns any relationship that’s not between one man and one woman (and of course condemns premarital sex as well).


  • sane

    marriage can survive anything but keeping score. find what works for you and live your lives together. or don’t.


  • friendly neighborhood atheist

    I’ve sort of tried the open relationship thing, and it worked for a short time.

    My wife and I and another couple had all been friends for years and did practically everything together as it was, so we gave the “two committed couples in a semi poly group relationship” thing a go. It went fairly well, but eventually some inklings of jealousy and favoritism began to crop up, so we cut it off and just went back to the way things had been before.

    I don’t know if we’re better for it or not, but it certainly hasn’t changed our friendship in the long run.

    On a more theoretical level, I wonder how much the attitudes that lead to the dissolution were baked in by the enculturated “couple norms” that we all hold. Minus said enculturation, would it have lasted longer? Been more fulfilling?


  • Thegoodman

    Open relationships are very interesting to me.

    I have been married 1 year now to the most wonderful person on earth. I have been completely committed to her for the 10 years we have been together but I have learned a lot about myself in that time. I have learned I do not have a jealous bone in my body. I don’t see why there are not more open relationships.

    I am not in an open relationship, but I do not know a man who I think would turn down the opportunity to be in one. At least in the circles I am in, it seems very female driven. Clearly the late-twenties guy friends I have are all walking boners (like myself) so the idea of having multiple partners is more attractive to us than our wives.

    Its unlikely my wife would ever be open to this idea and I love her as much as ever weather she wishes to explore this option or not, but it is definitely interesting.

  • Jason

    My spouse, who is transgender and transitioning (though wasn’t for the first 3.5 years of our currently 5 year relationship) and I recently decided to open our relationship. It’s still odd at times, as it’s very new and we’re in the getting-used-to-it phase, but at the same time, I think we both secretly sort of wanted it to be this way for a long time, and it caused some strain on the relationship.

    Point is, we weren’t talking about it, because I think we were each too afraid to mention it, only to have the other party be horrified at the prospect, damaging the relationship further. But now, we feel somehow closer, and I think we’re both relieved. There’s already less stress and tension between us. Plus, although we love each other dearly and have no interest in not being each other’s life partner, we’re probably about 50% sexually compatible at the moment.

    We are definitely still intimate with one another, but we like different things in bed. And though we began our relationship under the pretense of being a male-male couple, I am happy with the girlfriend/wife I now have, and love her changing body. That does not, however, exclude my desire for men. So, for us it’s not a big issue, surprisingly enough, as we’re already a pretty non-traditional couple. So far, it’s working just fine.


  • Danielle

    I dunno if I’ll ever get married, I’m not that type of person who like long-term commitment. I like to have a way out of things.


  • Marcie

    I think I’d be too jealous to be in an open relationship. If it works for other couples though, good for them.


  • Annabel

    Marriage terrifies me, but then, I’m almost 25 and have never had a “real” labeled relationship.

    The idea of an open marriage is kind of hard for me to wrap my mind around. If it’s open, why get married? Why not just have an open relationship? At the same time, though, whatever works for each person. I’m obviously not typical, so I can’t judge healthy, consensual relationships between other adults. It’s what makes a union happy and successful, not how it looks from the outside. I think.


  • Claudia

    Do relationships have to be monogamous in order to work?

    Uhm, obviously not, given the demonstrable existence of non-monogamous relationships that work. I think a better question would be “Are monogamous relationships more or less likely to fail than nonmonogamous relationships, all other things being equal?” I think I’d want actually scholarly research on that, more than a collection of anecdotes, to be sure.

    My personal feeling on the matter in the absence of hard data is that relationships work or don’t work based on how well participants are honest about themselves and each other about what they A. Want and B. Are actually able to provide, as well as to some degree on luck as far as how well they can handle the eventual, inevitable, changes. How open the relationship is is one of a number of factors that need to be considered; children, the level of importance given to work & sexual needs are others. People need to be aware of their own position and how far they are actually willing to compromise for the sake of the relationship. If you are aware that your girlfriend/boyfriend is of the nonmonogamous sort because you have been told, and know you are monogamous and can never really be happy any other way, then you should not marry that person. Not because nonmonogamy is bad or monogamy is bad, but because you are fundamentally noncompatible.

  • fracguru

    I’m in a happy, monogamous relationship (for the last 20 years), but I’ve always thought that I could be in a polyamorous relationship.

    In fact, I’ve always really like the idea of a ‘line marriage’ as expressed in Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”

    The idea of a line marriage is this:
    1. There are several husbands and wives, evenly spaced in age and number. In the book there were 5-6 of each, I think, spread in ages from ~20 to 70ish.
    2. All partners have an implied sexual relationship with all of the others of the opposite sex. However, actual sexual relations varies with inclination, attractions, etc…
    3. The living accomodations are all shared as are all resources. Child rearing, income generation, etc… is evenly shared.
    4. Since the partners are spread in age, the marriage never dies. Thus the family resources are accumulated over time and never dispersed or spread out when any particular person dies.

    The line marriage has always seemed to me to be a much better way to raise children and pool resources. As long as everyone is compatible and can handle the ‘free love’ environment, that is.

    Polyamorous relationships will have their day. It’s just going to take a while for us to get over this hang up that ‘real’ marriage is just one man and one woman.


  • For anyone in a non-traditional relationship, are you open about it? To whom?

    I am married to a wonderful woman and we have 2 kids, age 4 & 8. We spent the first 12 years of our marriage successfully monogamous and have spent the last 2 successfully polyamorous and anticipate that it will stay that way. I have several loves in my life now, one of whom will be moving in with us in a few weeks. We are open with everyone; family, friends, twitter. There have been some disownments and disgust from some family members and friends, but over all it has been much more rewarding than negative. A really good place to find some smart, well-written explanations of poly can be found here.

    Do relationships have to be monogamous in order to work?

    No, they do not. Nor do they have to be non-monogamous. People involved in relationships need to find out what works for them. Neither form is “better” than the other, merely different.

    For those of you who attended church at some point, did you ever know couples who were in a non-traditional relationship? How did they reconcile their faith with their “unbiblical” marriage?

    The UU Church is notoriously open-minded. There is even a group called Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness. I actually first heard about polyamory from a fellow UU’s facebook page!


  • In thinking about marriage equality for the LGBTQ population, I eventually came to agree with writers like David Boaz and Michael Kinsley, who think that the government should step back just a couple hundred years and stop recognizing marriages entirely.

    Leave the definition(s) of marriage to the churches, organizations, and people who want them; assign benefits for insurance, welfare, etc. on a household basis instead. Marriages involve rights and responsibilities, but everyone is shoehorned into a particular legal definition of marriage — so let people write their own agreements and let them be enforced like any other contract. I see no reason, aside from moral objections that don’t belong in a secular government, to prohibit this of LGBTQ, poly, or other partnerships.


  • JD

    I think the core question about do ______ relationships work, must really start with “do relationships work?” You need to start by defining success. “’til death” is an incredibly high standard, in an age where people aren’t content living in the same house for a decade, have same job for five years, or owning the same car for five years, having the same phone for two, who are we kidding that they’re content with the same person for life?

  • OverlapingMagisteria

    My philosophy is “if it works for you and your partner(s) and doesn’t cause harm, then great!”

    Myself, I’m a monogamous type; I don’t think I’m capable of loving more than one person. I’ve thought about this before and I imagine that if my wife took on another partner, it would bother me. But that kinda makes me feel bad about myself, since it would just be jealousy that she’s not with me and I feel that jealousy is generally a bad thing.

  • Lauren S.

    I know lots of people happily in poly relationships. I’m begining to think of it as an orientation. I for one am very monogomous, which confuses my poly friends to no end.


  • cat

    How exactly does not “fail” at a relationship? I don’t mean that sarcastically. Yes, break ups can be painful, but the fact that a relationship is not forever only could be seen as a “failure” if the expectation is that relationships are supposed to be forever. People change, circumstances change. Sometimes, people can positively change and grow together, sometimes they can’t. My first relationship was wonderful and it was a great thing for me at the time. We parted amiably when he moved away, but, if we were still together, it would be a hugely negative relationship. We have moved in very different ways. What I needed then and what I need now are very, very different things.

  • Alex

    I live in a community with a number of couples that have open marriages, or are poly with a primary long-term partner. From what I’ve seen, results vary tremendously. Some of these couples do very well: they’re very happy with each other, they give their children all the care they need, and are able to make time to be both physically and emotionally involved with others. Others, however are filled with jealousy, fight about who will take care of the kids when, and feel stressed out trying to pursue multiple relationships. I think what’s important is being honest with yourself and your partner… be clear, going into the relationship, about what your agreements are, and in what capacity your feelings are subject to change. The fact is, you will never know how you’ll feel 20 years down the road…. any relationship is a gamble.


  • Lusandre

    I’m in a committed, long-term polyamorous relationship and it has been working out very well for us. One reason I decided to seek out non-traditional relationship styles is because I am asexual… and while I’m perfectly willing to have sex (and with my current partner it is enjoyable—just thought I’d specify since many people seem to think asexual = doesn’t like sex ever), since I don’t experience sexual attraction I don’t really initiate or “get it” like my partner would want me to. She is a submissive masochist, while I am only slightly sadistic, and the sadism I engage in with her isn’t sexual to me at all, though it is to her. So, being in an open relationship allows her to get what she can’t get from me from other people she’s dating. Currently, she’s only dating one other person long distance, but she has like five other people who would date her if she lived nearby. Lest it sound like she’s the only one who would have other partners, I’m open to having other relationships as well, I just don’t actively look for them like she does.

    I am atheist and she is a weak agnostic theist raised by parents who might well be atheists (they never talk about religion), so neither of us goes to church. Since we are an openly affectionate same-sex couple, we occasionally joke about going just to see how people would react. I’ve never had experience with open-minded churches, since I was raised in Texas by religious nuts, though I’ve heard about a few UU churches in my area, and I’ve known a lot of poly people who practice some sort of paganism or Buddhism. We’re open about our relationship to all of our friends and to her family, though with her family it rarely comes up due to her other relationship being long distance. We’ve never really sat down and explained it to them or anything, though she’s brought home a married couple she was dating before we met, so they’re aware of it. They tend to forget that she is even bisexual though, so when her mother found out she had a boyfriend and was considering visiting him, she just turned to me and gave me a confused look to see if I was okay with it. I said, “Yeah, they’ve been dating for a while,” and that was that. They are generally pretty accepting, and consider me just part of the family. My family, on the other hand, has no idea I’m even dating one person, let alone that it’s a poly relationship. I rarely talk to them.

    Since a lot of people seem confused but interested in how poly relationships work, I thought I’d post a link to this excellent resource, which has helped my metamor (partner’s other partner) to figure out how to deal with polyamory. He is inexperienced with it, having only been in a monogamous marriage (which he is still in) before, and had to learn how to deal with his jealousy. He still has issues with it, but he’s gotten SO much better about it. Honestly, it kind of annoys me when I hear people say things like, “Oh, I could never do that, I’m just a jealous person!” because it assumes that poly people are inherently un-jealous, which isn’t true. It’s an issue you just have to work on, just like it is for monogamous people. We just do it with rigorous, open communication to determine what needs people have that aren’t being met and what we can do about them, instead of deciding that whatever behaviors trigger jealousy just aren’t allowed. I’ll admit that to me personally, the latter seems very controlling, and I have trouble understanding how it can work. I’m not trying to be derisive of monogamous relationships, though I guess a lot of mono people interpret it that way since I’ve had a lot of people get defensive when I am trying to just ask questions with no judgment attached. How do monogamous people deal with it when one partner becomes romantically interested in someone outside the relationship? I’ve never personally met any couples who have dealt with that sort of situation successfully, although I know it must work for some people, so I’m really curious. It seems to me like it would be just as much work to maintain a monogamous relationship as it is to be poly, just a different sort of work I guess.

    I do think a lot of monogamous people could benefit from learning about the things that we’ve hashed out in the poly community, though. In my personal experience, in monogamous (especially heterosexual) relationships, there’s a tendency to rely on a cultural script rather than really thinking about what works for each partner and being open and communicative about those things. For us, we’re well aware that there’s no way that could work, so we pretty much have to have a lot of talks about it. I imagine the most successful mono relationship does do that, too. For me, because of my sexual orientation, I know that traditional relationships just won’t work (even if I were in a mono relationship, it still wouldn’t be traditional). I’m much more comfortable this way, but to each their own!


  • Angie

    Mad Hominem, I thin I’m with you on that one. Let the religious people have their sacred label, and let the civil part of it be handled completely by the government.

    I am in a non-traditional relationship, and it just seems that we place more emphasis on our shared life goals than on our sexual and emotional ties to other people. This is not a hard boundary, but it works for us.
    We are open about the fact that we sometimes have sex with other people with our close friends and roommates, but not about the true emotional connections that exist there. It seems in my social circle that it is far more acceptable to have extra-marital sex than it is to have extra-marital love. The situation we’re in right now is definitely not something we discuss with our friends, which is one where my husband is involved with a woman who we are both deeply emotionally connected to. I feel more insecure about telling friends about this than any other act I’ve done.
    It would be nice to be able to tell people, but even in moderately liberal circles I am a part of, I am afraid it would be frowned upon because people aren’t use to it and most can’t imagine being okay with it.

    In a perfect world for me, I wouldn’t care if people understood how I felt about my marriage and the relationships that surround it, I would just be happy with them accepting something even if they can’t understand it.


  • John

    Monogamy is the default assumption by society, as to what is valid. The high divorce and cheating rates would indicate that this ‘ideal’ is hard to sustain. The excellent book Sex At Dawn opened my eyes to the evolutionary roots of our sexual tendencies.
    Because of insecurity and expectations, a lot of people probably couldn’t handle non-monogamy, but there are clearly people who thrive on it.

  • Happiness in life, for me at least, is paramount. I do what it takes to be happy and as a result, despite many many challenges, I am in fact happy. I think so many people are extremely unhappy because they do not take enough time to focus on themselves and their own personal wants and needs. In our society it is increasingly becoming taboo to put yourself as your number-one priority as this is considered “selfish”.

    I think when one puts herself first in life, you start finding out who you really are, which is something the majority of individuals fail to truly know well into their adulthood.

    This person knows who she is and she’s doing what makes her happy.

    There is nothing wrong with that.

    Kudos to her. Knowing who you are and doing what it takes to follow that path? It’s something most people will never have the guts to do.

    One way or another I’ll be reading her book.

  • Anonymous

    I have been in a monogamous marriage for 12 years, and we recently had our first child. Something about all the changes in our lives has gotten my husband interested in polyamory. I am afraid it’s because my time right now is taken up with a needy infant, and there are plenty of beautiful young women without infants. I can *logically* understand that polyamory can work and can be a good thing for some people. Sadly, it just makes me feel like crap that he could even consider being with other women while I’m at home with his screaming child. *sigh* Polyamory seems to me to be the solution to the male desire (or biological programming?) to have sex with a lot of women. If they can get women into it, they get the best of all worlds. For the women who don’t mind, the relationships work. But there are plenty of us who would prefer to love one man and will end up “giving into” polyamory because we don’t want our families to split up.

    One reason this might be a harder sell for women is that usually we are the nurturers. I barely have the emotional energy to care for my child and to invest in my one husband. I can’t see making room for more men, women or children. Since he doesn’t invest as much emotion and nurturing in relationships, the thought of adding people is exciting and interesting instead of exhausting.

  • When I was twenty I loved two people at once. It didn’t work- both ended up jealous and angry with me. We’ve all hooked up on facebook recently and it has been very strange to watch them both interact with each other and with me, now in this span of 25 years. My girlfriend just emailed me last week. She wanted to know why I couldn’t love just her. So yea, the pain can continue for a long time, obviously.

    I have been married now for almost 20 years, and have been monogamous. I can’t imagine it changing now, and if it did, I think it would devastate our teenage children.

    I think the author’s UU church sounds better than mine. We went through a terrible rash of cheating and divorce, and many of the couples that split married someone from another split couple. It caused a lot of grief, mostly for the children involved. A lot of the re-mixed couples still attend, but there is a lot of tension.

    This is a tough topic. I went to the UU General Assembly a few years ago and it was listed as the next social challenge for UU’s to undertake. I remember telling my kids polyamorous rights will be the gay rights of their generation.

  • t0ast

    “For anyone in a non-traditional relationship, are you open about it? To whom?”

    *raises hand*

    A bit of background first: I’m a guy, bisexual (with a slight lean towards homosexuality), and I’m in my first open relationship. The guy I’m with is gay, and this isn’t his first. We’re both in our mid 20s. I was already favorable to the idea before we met, but just hadn’t been with anyone else before who was. Long story short, we’re still going strong 3+ years later.

    What seems to make it work above all else is that we’ve already committed ourselves to being upfront and honest about everything to each other and not playing stupid games about what we want, how we feel, etc.

    From there, it just a few simple rules for the “open” bit:
    — Give priority to each other over others outside the relationship.
    — Play safe or not at all. No exceptions.
    — If it’s going to be with a new or new-ish person, let the other know beforehand.
    — If it’s with someone we know well, after is fine.
    — Full disclosure afterwards if the other cares to know.

    Sometimes it’s just us. Sometimes we go without the other. Sometimes it’s both of us + one … or more.

    That’s all there is to it, really. We’ve earned each other’s trust and removed as much potential for drama as we can from the picture.

    We’ve met only a few couples who have made similar relationships work, and several who have failed spectacularly while trying. It just takes a unique mindset and a bit of luck in finding the right person who can share it with you.

    As with anything in the bedroom, any type of relationship, any type of sexuality, so on and so forth… If it’s for you, you’ll know. If you don’t know, you’ll find out rather quickly (for better or worse). If it’s not for you, you move on and try something else.

  • Erin

    This is so interesting, I’m in a committed pre-marriage relationship but always wondered how people make open relationships work, I assuming lots of communication, I hope I can read this book after my classes finish up for the semester!


  • Halley

    Monogamy doesn’t seem to make very much sense to me, I mean, if you find one person who makes you happy all the time then it’s great to only have a relationship with that one person. But that isn’t very realistic for quite a few people. I’ve been with my girlfriend for about 5 years, less officially, we had some trouble coming to terms with the whole lesbian thing, homophobic parents and whatnot, and she always makes me happy, I don’t want to be with anyone else most of the time. But we’ve discussed having an essentially open relationship and we’re fine with it if the other wants to go outside the relationship for something.

  • Rickster

    An interesting topic and one that I’d like to read more about. I’ve often thought that relationships don’t need to be monogamous to succeed. But to be honest, with kids and all that goes with raising them, I don’t see how there would be time. My wife and I never even have time for just us to go out and do things.


  • Chelsea

    I believe it’s possible, yes… but I don’t really understand how. I’m not a jealous person, but I do demand loyalty and devotion, and the concept of open relationships seems so far removed from those things.
    Plus, I wouldn’t trust myself, or my partner, to not fall in love with any of the people we had “on the side”. My boyfriend and I started out just by sleeping together, not dating, and we fell in love. So clearly neither of us can be trusted to keep the physical and emotional separate.


  • doglovingirl

    It’s nobody’s damn business to tell me who I can or cannot marry. If I want to marry someone of the same sex, or have an open marriage, or multiple partners, or be monogamous, or whatever, as long as we’re all consenting adults (that’s the important part), then what’s the harm? What I do in the bedroom, and with whom, is nobody’s damn business. That especially goes for self-righteous “do as I say, not as I do” Christian bigots with their tired old book of do’s and don’ts. If YOU don’t want that stuff, then YOU don’t do it. But don’t tell ME what I can and cannot do. It’s none of your damn business.


  • I have friends who are in a polyamorous, open marriage. They have been doing this for 8 years, and they couldn’t be happier. There were once 3 “partners,” but 1 strayed, so the 2 that were married are still together and still seeking other partners. They’re amazing how great they are together.


  • Lamont

    Uhm, in 1995, you had very active Usenet newsgroups dedicated to polyamory and at least the books _Love without Limits_ and _The Ethical Slut_. Seemed like pretty much everyone I knew in college was experimenting with open relationships as well. It wasn’t that big of a secret. Most of those failed and the same college kids are no longer in open relationships. Some of them failed quite spectacularly.

    These relationships work for a very small minority of people. The majority of people usually have one member of the relationship that is trying to get the best of both worlds as they get to shop around while they’re still in a relationship.

  • t0ast

    Looks like that book might make for an interesting read. Forgot to put this in my previous comment…


  • Danish Atheist

    I think anything consenting adults do, is okay. And I see examples of open and very loving relationships among my friends. I know they are not open to everyone about their relationship, but only talk about it to those friend they know to be very open minded. If it were me, I’d do the same. Even in liberal Denmark, hetero-normative thinking rules.

    I’d LOVE to win the book — so .. Sexie

  • Markus

    I think marriage should be defined by the consenting adults who wish to participate. If that happens to be more than two people or open instead of closed, then that’s up to them.


  • I’ve been polyamorous for several years now, even if I have had a couple of short mono relationships in that time. I believe that monogamy is (logically and practically) a sub-set of polyamory. That is, in some way just about everyone has something in their lives that could be called polyamorous. Monogamy is just one relationship construct that is possible to achieve within this larger framework. One that is satisfying to some people, but not others.

    Being monogamous by default is, I think, the killer of many relationships.

  • Aaryk

    I’m currently in a 6 year relationship that I’m very interested in opening up, but my S.O. has absolutely no interest in considering that option. In fact, anytime it’s mentioned she takes offense and begins crying. I’m curious to see how well the author addresses the issue of working out these early issues in establishing an open marriage.

    My girl is otherwise a very adventurous person. I just wish she wasn’t of the ingrained opinion that involving someone(s) else in the relationship is cheating regardless of the permissions partners grant each other or the rules they set with one another.


  • I meant to add…


  • Chris

    My wife and I are swingers. We have been married almost 6 years, have two incredible children, and are looking to buy a house right now. For all intents and purpose we look like every other normal married couple in Southern California. But early on in our relationship we talked about group sex. She had an interest in other women but hadnt acted on it, and we both had experience with MMF threesomes, but neither of us had ever done it while in a relationship. It took a couple years of talking about it before we finally took the plunge and its been great. We have talked through all of the different aspects of it and we have our rules and guidelines as any couple in this lifestyle should, one being that we dont play seperately. But getting in to this lifestyle we have been amazed at the kind of people we have met: cops, celebrities, the list goes on, even an extended family member that we ran in to at a club party. Relationships arent one size fits all. Talk it through, have open communication (thats key) and be wililng to be be open minded and explore a bit and youll be amazed at the world that opens up to you.


  • Emily

    As a college student it’s a lot easier to be open than it is later in life, I think, so I’ve still got it easy, thankfully.

    Also, a lot of people conflate open relationships/non-monogamy as cheating or just extra sexual relationships when it really more defines being involved in multiple romantic and emotional relationships, over just sexual ones (though sex is nice!).


  • SecularLez

    I’d much rather marriage be kept out of government. I am a lesbian, as my username says, and unlike most in the LGBT community, I’m not FOR same-sex marriage. Instead of fighting to join the institution of government-sanctioned marriage, we should be trying to get rid of it.

    I’m open to an open relationship but it’s hard to find someone who is open to one as well.

    I will add this book to my summer reading list.


  • Jason

    I remember reading some Larry Niven books as a teen, and his concept of marriage in the future was interesting. As life expectancies increased he saw marriage as a commitment for a period of time. Couples would commit to each other for say a span of 15 or 20 years. After that they would be free to go on in separate directions or re-up.
    I think as humanity evolves the concept of marriage needs to evolve as well. This includes who can marry, how long they are married, and what marriage fundamentally means. I think marriage is a social contract and can cover whatever the participants agree upon. I don’t think government needs to, nor should, define what marriage is. My commitments to my wife are between us. If we agree open our relationship, that shouldn’t be anyone’s business but our own.
    I feel that the concept of a polyfidelitous (closed) relationship is one that will grow in the future. I think a coterie of committed adults is stronger than an open relationship.

  • AxeGrrl

    SecularLez wrote:

    I’m not FOR same-sex marriage

    Then the decision is simple (as it is for everyone else):

    don’t have one 🙂

  • Ron in Houston

    Biologically, we tend to be wired for monogamy. We have receptors in our brains for oxytocin that are similar to one of the few other monogamous mammals, the prairie vole.

    Some people obviously can make non-monogamous situations work but in my experience they are a distinct minority. I tend to think that the relationship patterns of modern adults reflects our “true” nature. I think we’re wired for serial monogamy.

  • A relationship with two people can be very rewarding and wonderful and fulfilling but it’s also hard work. Adding more people to the mix will necessarily increase the complexity and the likelihood for problems but there are clearly people who make this work for all parties involved.

    Just as there isn’t one right way to have sex, eat, dress, raise children, learn, dance or do almost anything else, there is no one right way to have a relationship. There may well be a lot of wrong ways to do all of those things, of course, but I’m just rather tired of the arguments on both side talking about what is “natural” what is “best” what is “most successful.” People have all sorts of needs, wants, expectations and idiosyncrasies and as long as all the parties involved are truly consenting adults, that’s good enough for me.

  • Danny

    I don’t see anything wrong with different styles of relationship. I’ve never known anyone personally that has been polyamorous, but I wouldn’t care either way if they were. It’s a personal choice that needs to be left to the people involved. For some, this type of relationship works out perfectly, others not so much.
    I could never see myself in this type of relationship. I am perfectly content being with only my current girlfriend. This works for us and it doesn’t need to change. I would have no problem with one of my friends doing this though.

    I kind of wish I could know if the people I went to church with had any types of non-traditional relationships going on. Unfortunately this will remain a mystery as I don’t talk to anyone I ever went to church with and I was too young when I did to know about any of this stuff.


  • siveambrai

    I think that many forms of relationships can work but that they all require two basic concepts: trust and communication. Without those even a monogamous relationship will fail.


  • Sheila

    What? No Raising Arizona quotes?

    H.I.: What are you talkin’ about, Glen?

    Glen: What am I talkin’ about? I’m talkin’ about sex, boy, what the hell you talkin’ about? I’m talkin’ about l’amour! I’m talkin’ that me and Dot are swingers, as in “to swing.” I’m talkin’ about wife swappin’. I’m talkin’ about what they call nowadays open marriage. I’m talk…

    H.I.: [Knocks Glen to the ground with a punch] Keep your goddamn hands off my wife!


  • Ron in Houston Says:

    Biologically, we tend to be wired for monogamy. We have receptors in our brains for oxytocin that are similar to one of the few other monogamous mammals, the prairie vole.

    I suspect that the author and research of Sex At Dawn would disagree

  • Sarah TX.

    My husband and I are ridiculously, almost painfully monogamous – I think it’s because we’re both really introverted in the sense that we become exhausted by other people (even each other), instead of energized.

    It seems ridiculous that our culture expects people to bind themselves with vows of monogamy, while also expecting people to fail. It’s like, as long as we’re all pretending to be monogamous, everything’s OK. In fact, it seems to be a particularly religious mindset – make a bunch of really strict rules, knowing that no one can live up to this standard of perfection. As long as we’re maintaining the illusion of perfection, it’s the same thing, right? It never made sense to me, even when I was a Christian.


  • Michael

    Too many body parts. Oh wait, that’s a menage-trois.

  • Lamont Says:

    Uhm, in 1995, you had very active Usenet newsgroups dedicated to polyamory and at least the books _Love without Limits_ and _The Ethical Slut_. Seemed like pretty much everyone I knew in college was experimenting with open relationships as well. It wasn’t that big of a secret. Most of those failed and the same college kids are no longer in open relationships. Some of them failed quite spectacularly.

    And how many of the monogamous relationships also failed spectacularly? We don’t blame the relationship structure for these failures though they are far more commonplace.

    These relationships work for a very small minority of people. The majority of people usually have one member of the relationship that is trying to get the best of both worlds as they get to shop around while they’re still in a relationship.

    You forgot the hashtag #notintendedtobeafactualstatement
    This is only anecdotally true at best and disingenuous stereotype at worst. While there are few studies done on polyamory so far, the evidence has seemed to indicate that is not the case.

  • Vas

    Alright I may as well chime in…

    One thing I find strange is the fact that a great many, really a whole lot of “swingers” are in fact Christian and conservative, they tend to strongly disapprove of male bisexuality yet seem to expect female bisexuality and on top of that they tend to disapprove of male homosexuality although they will sometimes accept female homosexuality on a limited basis. Now being a kinkster myself I find that they are separate from and do not interact with “kinksters” much at all, they are a separate and distinct group. My relationship is not monogamous but we are not swingers. We also tend to avoid the mingling of fluids in encounters outside our primary relationship. Our perception of sex is much broader that just that of genital penetration. We are not really polyamorous as we tend not to invest emotionally much with others, well at least not in the romantic sense of the word, the relationships we form with others seem to be more on the line of friendships. As kinksters we roll with many other similar but different groups such as, leather folks, nasty pigs, BDSM types, critters, (puppies and ponies etc.), pro domes, (socially we do not use their services), club kids, fetishists, the list goes on, in all of these groups some are open to “sex” outside their romantic relationships, some are polyamorous, some are part of “leather families”, some are mono, and some fall into the “other” catagory. But the swingers are not a part of this much except for running into them at alt. sex classes or seminars, and then only on certain subjects.

    The point being that there are a lot of different flavors out there and trying to understand an “open” relationship by looking at one experience or the norm of a single group is not going to yield much more than a limited understanding of a single type of “open” relationship. Different people and groups will have different reasons and go about it in different ways. We have our reasons for outside encounters or including others in our activities, but someone who appears to be doing pretty much the same things we are, (from an outside perspective) may be doing something completely different and for different reasons. The landscape is wide and varied so I choose not to try to herd everyone who is not monogamous into a single pen.


  • Skele

    For the last ten years, I have been living in a closed poly triad (MFM). Communication and honesty are the two single largest components of our relationships. We all live together (for the past seven years) and we couldn’t be happier (In fact, we are celebrating being a triad of ten years today!)

    For some people, polyamory is not for them just like monogamy isn’t for me. I wish them well but I wish they would quit comparing my relationships to fundamental Mormonism.


  • Ron in Houston

    Cyberlizard – I’m not so sure they disagree. I think it comes down to long term versus short term monogamy.

  • Ron in Houston

    While there are few studies done on polyamory so far

    There are loads of peer reviewed studies done on polygyny (one man with multiple women) and they are generally negative toward the practice.

    It’s hard to study polyandry since it’s so rare.

    Regardless, some people obviously can make it work.

  • Ron in Houston wrote the following:

    Biologically, we tend to be wired for monogamy. We have receptors in our brains for oxytocin that are similar to one of the few other monogamous mammals, the prairie vole.

    There is some studies that suggest humans engage in what biologists call “mixed reproductive strategies.”

    Females in many “monogamous” species have been discovered to be non-monogamous when blood testing to determine paternity happens.

    Females are not passive consumers of male courtship but often make complex choices involving a long-term pair-bonding for raising her offspring and copulation outside this pair bond. This may give her the best of both worlds from a reproductive strategy point of view — help raising her offspring and better genetic inputs from the male she copulates with.

    There was some recent research suggesting that who were attrachted to depended on whether they were ovulating or not:

    “Study confirms ‘pill’ affects mate choice”

  • I’m still very young (19), but I’ve been thinking about marriage for awhile. I don’t mean thinking about getting married, just what I think of it in general. I haven’t really been able to come to a solid conclusion about it. Right now I’m single, and I’m having a lot of fun with with that, but once I’m in a relationship I don’t know what I’ll do. Religion definitely has the monopoly on marriage right now, which is a huge deterrent for me. It has it’s legal/societal benefits, certainly, but I don’t know if they’ll be worth it. I don’t believe that I can have a decades long relationship with one person, and I don’t believe that humans are even ‘meant’ to do so. I’ll just have to see what my future partner thinks about it and go from there, I suppose.


  • BMoreBeowulf

    My fiancee and I have a somewhat open relationship, and we expect that to carry on into our marriage. We aren’t actively swinging all the time, but we’ve gotten other people of both genders involved before, and it’s something we’re both comfortable with and enjoy. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re comfortable with it, it can be a lot of fun and can build a stronger relationship.

  • Nakor

    It’d be intellectually dishonest of me to claim they can’t work — clearly they do. I would be surprised if they worked for just anyone though. I am not sure it could work for me. If I were to be brutally honest, assuming I were married, I do not think I would be outgoing enough to even consider trysts outside marriage. If it were, then, only my wife doing such, then I think I would be rather uncomfortable. Then again, that is just a hypothetical — I’m not married, nor have I ever seriously dated. I suppose it’s just never been an issue for me. Either way, the topic seems interesting.

    To answer the remaining question, to the best of my knowledge there were no open marriages at the church I once attended. There was one gay couple whom the church quickly and happily married as soon as it was made legal.


  • polywoman

    My husband and I opened up our relationship last year at my request. We have been together for 10 years and married for the last 6. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Some partners have worked out wonderfully, others have not worked out as well. What has worked especially well is how the relationship between my husband and I has deepened and improved. We’re much more honest and direct with our needs, fears and desires. We’re proactive about making sure each other is happy. He’s finally getting to experience ‘dating’ (he had dated very little before me) and I am able to explore both my kinks and my bisexuality. We are open to a some of our friends and my sister. Other friends we are telling as it comes up and as we are comfortable with it.

    I think any type of relationship can work if the people in it are committed and honest with what they need. I think it’s difficult for one person to be everything to another person for all time. People and circumstances change.

    A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to be at a friend’s birthday party with my husband and our partners were there as well. I sat back and watched as my loves talked and flirted and interacted with each other and with my friends. I don’t know if I have ever felt as happy and content as I did in that moment. It’s not always easy and certainly jealousy can be an issue, but for me at least it’s very worth it.


  • Miko


    In general I’m puzzled by logistics of non-monogamy assuming children are around. Do you phone your spouse to ask to please move to the guest bedroom you’re bringing someone home tonight?

    The logistics would depend on the exact nature of the non-monogamy. In a clan marriage (multiple spouses of both genders in a poly-committed relationship, possibly with members free to have non-clan partners on the outside) there are usually enough beds that it isn’t an issue. In open one-partner marriages, options would include going to the unwed partners dwelling (if one of the sexees is unwed) or having the partners from one or both of the sexees also involved.

    I suspect in most cases people just use the simplest imaginable solution of each parent having his/her own bedroom.

    Overall, the logistics are pretty much the same as for finding a parking spot: some places you have one reserved, some places you share them with a pool of other people, and some places you just find something that works on the fly. But you usually can find something suitable if you try.

    Does your spouse get to stand up for all three kids that night to give you and the new guy some privacy? Does mr/ms get to slip out the next morning before your kids see them? Or do you simply tell your kids that mommy and daddy are shagging around?

    It depends on the sexual taboos of the society. Do monogamous parents tell their children every time they have sex? However, it’s important to remember that non-monogamous individuals usually don’t think that non-monogamy is shameful and as such usually wouldn’t bother trying to hide it. So, they might mention that “‘Uncle’ Joe stayed over with Mommy again last night” while being as mute on the subject of what they did as the average monogamous couple would be.

    More seriously; what happens when someone falls pregnant? Do people agree beforehand what happens in that case?

    Why would they need to? Do monogamous couples have a special clause in their marriage contracts specifying what happens when someone becomes pregnant?

    Non-monogamous couples do exactly one monogamous couples do: discuss beforehand what they think about the various methods of ensuring that they don’t have a child, and upon learning of a pregnancy discuss whether they want a child and are logistically ready for a child, decide whether to keep the fetus or abort it, and provide the child with a loving home if they decide not to abort the fetus.

    Overall, the traditional functions of the marriage contract are to preserve capital and ensure as best as possible that children can be raised in a stable environment. Neither of these functions is hurt by removing the assumption of monogamy, so long as all signers of the contract agree.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    An interesting topic for a change! I get real tired of being defined by what I don’t believe and battling the myths instead of exploring new ground. I read a book on open marrage in the ’70 but have heard little since and assumed it didn’t go very far except with a fringe until recently when I’ve heard of some multiple relationships. I personally have been single and mostly alone but wonder if that’s partly because of the closed nature of monogamous relationships.
    Do relationships have to be monogamous in order to work? I don’t know but would like to.

  • Jas

    Intersting topic. Personally I’ve always liked the idea of having two husbands.

  • I’m polyamorous and I can’t imagine being any other way, now. It requires a lot of communication and absolute honesty, but I see those as plusses anyway.

    To Rob in Houston and other people discussing the biology of monogamy, above: it’s important to distinguish between pair-bonding and monogamy. We, like many species, do seem “wired” for long-term pair-bonds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean exclusive relationships. The prairie voles you mention, for example, have sexual flings outside their pair-bonds. And I’m not aware of any research saying that those oxytocin bonds can’t be formed with more than one other partner.

    Another distinction it’s important to make is between patriarchal, often religion-based polygyny and truly open marriage. Polygyny is oppressive in structure, if not always in practice. One problem that will arise if and when the issue of multiple marriage hits the public sphere is whether we want to re-open the grounds for oppressive polygyny by allowing a person to have more than one spouse. It’ll be a fun discussion, I’m sure.


  • delzoup

    I imagine polyamory seems rare is because the West is so geared toward monogamy. In the whole world there are many different kind of committed relationships and sexual relationships, and they work as well (or better) than serial monogamy.

    Personally I will probably be monogomous, because I struggle with being openly sexual. It makes me feel so terribly vulnerable–I have trouble admitting I find a person sexually attractive to my friends. I had a hard time acknowledging my non-virgin status, even long after I was pregnant. Inside my marriage I had no problems. Now that I’m divorced, I’m struggling with the idea of trusting another person in the sack, let alone two or three.

    Not for the first time, I wish you could will yourself to fit the morals you’ve come to adapt.


  • Anonymouse

    I’m getting married in July to a man who’s given me the best relationship I’ve ever had … EVER. I’m 35 and I’ve been dating since I was 14. I’ve had a lot of relationships in those 20 years and none of them have been anywhere near as fulfilling at this one.

    Being bi, I’ve always been interested in open relationships. I guess I never really liked the idea of not just settling on one person, but settling on one GENDER. Unlike a lot of my friends, who felt that sex was this amazing, emotional attachment to a person, I’ve always looked at sex much more practically. Sex is a biological function. Sex is fun. Sex feels good. Sure, you can MAKE it an amazing, emotional attachment to a person and take on all of that corny crap about “being one with a person” during the act of it, but it isn’t necessary and even if you take away that emotional attachment, surprise surprise, sex still feels GOOD.

    I, however, never found men who were interested in open relationships (at least any more sort of ‘open’ than being willing to watch me have sex with another girl). They often toyed around with the idea, sure, but none of them would ever commit to it or follow through, and one of my relationships (one that had lasted 5+ years) ended when he accused me of sleeping with my best friend, whom I had absolutely no romantic interest in, was certainly not having sex with and didn’t even find attractive.

    For many years, I, like Sadie, decided I either needed to hide everything that I was and everything that I felt in order to have a non-contentious relationship or I was just going to have to make peace with the fact that I would never marry and never have children. About two years ago, I got sick and tired of thinking of my future with no one in it but myself, and decided that I’d go with the hiding part. I figured I’d always have fantasies to fall back on even if my real life didn’t measure up.

    Then, I met M. I’ll call him that. M and I were walking on the beach on one of our first dates and he somehow managed to wheedle out of me that which I’d sworn I’d hide – especially from him because I liked him so much I didn’t want my weirdness to interfere with our relationship. Somehow, in a very short span of time on a quiet, dark beach in the middle of the summer, he got it all out of me. My love for all things BDSM (and complete lack of experience), every one of my perverted little fantasies and fetishes, even what sort of porn I like to watch the most. Then, he dropped a bombshell on me. I could tell he was incredibly nervous to tell me about it, but he did, anyway. He enjoyed all of those things as well, in fact he believed that sex should be fun and fulfilling and feel good, not saddled with a ton of emotional expectations and high and lofty spirituality that only existed in the other person’s mind. It was one of what we’d soon find were a million reasons why we were perfectly compatible.

    Then, he told me that his previous marriage was an open one and I was stunned, scared and excited all at the same time. I could finally find out what it was like to be in an open relationship, and with someone who’s been there and knows the roadmap, so to speak! This couldn’t get more perfect, but I was afraid, like with so many other things, that I could talk the talk but not walk the walk. Imagining how an open relationship will ideally be and then following through with that open relationship are two completely different things. I was intensely afraid I would feel extreme jealousy, cry intensely, hide my feelings because I wanted to keep him happy, do any of a million horrible things. I had been brainwashed enough by the monogamous-centric world that even though I somehow knew it could work, I balked.

    But, before I knew it, our open relationship was being tested. He was going out and I was staying in. That night was probably one of the two most eye-opening nights of my life and all I did was go to sleep. At first, I felt weird because I knew where he was and what he was doing and it wasn’t with me. I waited for the jealousy to start. The tears. Everything that I feared would happen … but nothing happened. No jealousy … and when he came home that night, I reveled in the scent of illicit sex on him and cuddled up all the more closer. It was official. All that crap I was fed about monogamy growing up was bullshit … at least for me.

    After that, I became obsessed with finding a female partner. I knew that I wanted M there, at least for the first time, because I was scared out of my freaking mind, but I still wanted the experience. I’ve never been one to let simple fear keep me from doing something.

    We got all dressed up one night and went out to a swinger’s club. I was tingling with excitement and then a little bummed out when I realized that I was the hottest one in the room. Most of the men there were single and looked like typical pervs. The women were … mmm … less than attractive. I got a charge out of all of these pervs constantly staring at me, simply because it was a safe place. There were plenty of bouncers and other men there who would prevent anything bad from happening.

    Then, I saw her. I’ll call her L for the sake of this story. L was dressed in a plaid miniskirt and simple tank top. She had long, brown hair with a slight wave to it, a gorgeous face, tits that were just perfect and an ass I wanted to curl up and sleep on. She was there with her boyfriend, a relatively attractive normal looking guy. Her and I locked eyes from across the room and she gave me this smoldering, amazing look that said, quite plainly, ‘I want to devour you’.

    I did my best to return that look, though I was honestly very surprised that someone was looking at /me/ that way. My boyfriend and I went into the ‘couple’s only’ room and she tugged on her boyfriend’s hands to follow us.

    I said at the beginning of this that I’m bi, but until this happened, I was untested bi. I’d admired plenty of women, fantasized about probably hundreds of women, and have kissed and heavy petted with a few, but never full-blown, all-out sex. So, just like everything else kinky in my life, I was terrified I wouldn’t like it.

    That night turned out to be one of the best nights of my life. I had a HUGE FUCKING GRIN plastered on my face the whole night. M, thrilled he was getting a great show (and, after we eventually got over each other, got to participate as well), also had a huge fucking grin plastered on his face… and not for that, but because he could give me this fantastic thing.

    After, L and I cuddled, exchanged numbers and promised to get together again. She was the sweetest, best thing to ever happen to me aside from meeting and later getting engaged to M. Because of wedding planning, I haven’t gotten to get together with her again and our other encounters have been extremely limited, but once the wedding is over, I expect we’ll have plenty of time to do that.

    I love my open relationship. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world… and here’s why. Trust. M and I trust each other more completely than we’ve ever trusted another human being in our entire lives. In other relationships, I thought I knew what trust was, but it wasn’t until this one that I really learned what trust is.

    The rules are really simple … we are each other’s life partners and that means so much more than simply having sex with only one other person for the rest of your life.

    Marrying someone is so much more than choosing who you’re going to fuck for the rest of your life. It’s choosing who you’re going to build a life with and ultimately choosing how you’re going to build that life together. The act of marriage, then, is a contract that the two of you enter into, a binding agreement that those rules will be followed, whatever you make them out to be. For some people, that may be to have sex only with that other person for the rest of their lives, but that doesn’t mean that works for everyone. I’ve made this long enough, so I won’t go into more detail about why I think that very few people are actually wired to have true monogamous relationships, but I do believe that. I also believe that whatever contract you go into with your partner is the one that you should stick with until and unless the both of you change your minds (or decide to part ways).

    Very few people know about our open relationship. All of them are close friends who are either sympathetic or also in open relationships, themselves. Open relationships come in all shapes and sizes with all manners of rules and regulations attached to them depending on the couple involved and what they truly are looking for in an open relationship.

    As you can see above, I, myself, am wary about being too open, especially on the internet where your name quickly becomes attached to anything at all that you say. This world is far too prudish to truly understand what it means to completely trust someone and let go of all of your insecurities.

    “Sexie” – I’d LOVE to read this book!

  • LeAnne

    Sarah TX said:
    “My husband and I are ridiculously, almost painfully monogamous – I think it’s because we’re both really introverted in the sense that we become exhausted by other people (even each other), instead of energized.”

    This is my boyfriend and I, almost to the T. We’re both super introverts, so think that alone would keep us away from polyamory. Plus I’m just too selfish.


  • Alt 3

    I don’t understand how jealousy over our partners has become so entrenched and normal in most relationships. Every time I’ve talked about it with the people in my life they say that it’s hardwired into us, that it’s just natural. Putting aside for a moment whether or not humans are naturally monogamous (I’m still not sure) why would being a natural impulse be an excuse for behaviour that restricts the people you love? If I followed every natural impulse I felt I’d assault every person who was rude to me, and in times past I’m sure I’d be celebrated for that behaviour. Now, if you genuinely don’t want to have sex with people other than your partner there’s nothing wrong with that, but just looking at how many people do eventually stray, I’d say it’s about time we grew up sexually.


  • Alt 3

    Oh, by the way, is this book available in an ebook format?

  • Constance Brown


    I have always questioned the mate-for-life approach of marriage, and I am grateful that I live in a time when it is acceptable to question and learn more about this subject. Can you imagine a book like this published in the 50’s? I wholeheartedly believe that marriage is not one-size-fits all; we need to allow people the space to create their own relationships and what works for them, without judgement or fear.

  • Poyndexter

    “Sounds like they’re doing something right :)”

    Is there any form of degeneracy you don’t applaud?

  • mousefeathers

    For the curious:

    The three keys to successful polyamory: Communicate, communicate, communicate!

    Murphy’s Law for the Polyamorous: Love is unlimited—but time is not.

    I think one of the main differences between monogamous and polyamorous (the responsible types in each category, not the creeps) is that poly people are able, for whatever reason, to spend a lot of energy on relationships. It takes energy to maintain even one, much less two or more, although if it’s working well for the individuals involved, the habits of maintenance they formed in the beginning reduce the drag, so to speak.

    Many of the above posters have actually answered the serious questions, and anyway, I’m no expert—this is just my life and poly is the way I live it. Most of my current circle are also poly, because closets are so confining—my birth family would probably freak, so as long as my father’s still with us, I’m staying inside, darnit. They accept my atheism quietly enough, but that’s probably because we’re ALL a stubborn set of cusses, so they know trying to change that would just keep me away from them altogether.

    It is funny, as monogamous and religious as they are, one evening they were talking about meeting spouses in heaven, and one sister-in-law piped up with “there’s no taking of husbands and wives in heaven.” They must not want to be burdened after they’re gone.

    Of course my father replied, “Ma was surely disappointed if she didn’t get to see Pa again!” They’d been together 65 years when he died, and Grandma was heartbroken when she discovered she wouldn’t be bringing home from hospital that last time.

    65 years—Grandma was only 16 when they married, but she was always passionately in love with Grandpa, as was he with her. It happens. It’s just not going to happen to ME (I mean besides the fact that my husband died a couple years ago. *snort*)

    Along with a couple others, I want to mention Sex at Dawn—I’m in the middle of reading it now, and find it quite compelling in the evidence it presents, even aside from my own prejudices in this regard. It’s got to make people think, although I doubt it will convert the strongly monogamous. It’s hard to overcome heavy aculturation. I know I’m not likely to start eating insects on purpose! Eeeuuuwwwccchhhh.

    And, while the book sounds like fun, I’ll leave my name out of the hat. I have enough reading to keep me busy for some time to come. Enjoy it, o fortunate winner!

  • Kind of anonymous

    Thanks for posting this. I’ll have to check out the book. I’m in an open marriage as well, and I’m not really all that “out.” All my close friends know (I have a lot of friends who are involved in the poly/kink communities), but we have kept it from our families. I’m pretty vocal about defending polyamory, but I don’t often tell people that I’m poly myself.

    My spouse and I are both atheists, but a few years ago, we had a relationship with a woman who is a Christian. I don’t think she was really ever able to reconcile her faith with her sluttiness. I do know that she was Catholic, but found she had to leave the Church because she couldn’t handle all the guilt about her “sins.” She was trying to look for a more liberal church, but I’m not sure if she ever found that.

    We had a few god debates over the course of our relationship, which lasted about 2 years. It was difficult, though, because she felt like my spouse and I were insulting her beliefs (and I guess we were), but it was really hard watching her struggle with believing in a religion that tells her she’s going to hell.

  • Cody

    I completely agree with Sadie. For me monogamous relationships seem more comfortable, but it would definitely be possible to have a happy and healthy open relationship or marriage. One segway to this topic I’ve always found interesting is if polygamous marriages were legal, or at least polyamorous relationships were socially acceptable, would the extremely religious be more inclined to accept other forms of non-typical sexuality?


  • Jen

    Boyfriend and I have been open for 7 years after us deciding on it together. Wasn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d love to read this book!


  • Kind of anonymous

    Oops, I also meant to say sexie. I hope I win!

  • Thanks everyone for all the thoughtful comments. What a pleasure to read them all!

    This book is an eBook, so for those of you who asked, YES, that is the format. So it’s not expensive, nor will it take up space on your shelves!

    Thanks so much, Hemant, for writing about my book!

    xoxo~Sadie Smythe

  • When I lost my faith a couple of years ago, it led me to question my beliefs about everything, including marriage. I used to be very traditional. My husband and I didn’t even live together before we were married – and that was before I was a Christian. I just thought it was the “right” way and, being a child of divorce, I wanted to do it right.

    I see now how flawed that way of thinking was. There is no right way. In fact, my husband and I both agree that we would have been happier if we had continued to live in separate apartments. We just both need space that we don’t have and it caused a lot of friction for years. We only got married because that’s what people do. Interestingly, acknowledging that fact was what finally brought us closer. We’re happy being married now, but we are open to doing non-traditional arrangements, if that’s what we find ourselves wanting in the future.


  • Since I’m gay and asexual, I think every relationship I form is non-traditional in some way. The relationship I’m currently in is very hard to explain. For one thing, we don’t consider it a romantic relationship. And I don’t just mean that it doesn’t buy into stereotypes of romance, I mean that it falls outside the friendship/romance dichotomy that governs every other relationship in my life. I’m not very open about it, because I feel that announcing it makes it out to be a bigger deal than it is.

    Incidentally, he’s also polyamorous. I don’t consider myself polyamorous since I have no interest in multiple partners myself, but I also have no sense of jealousy.

  • Margaret

    Clearly, they work for some people. See above.

    My husband and I are both open to the idea of an open relationship, but at this point in our lives — with kids and activities — the logistics of it seem daunting.

    Looking forward to the book.


  • cd

    We’ve been married five years, and “open” to certain degrees for two of them. That is, open with select close friends, and only after discussion between us first. It’s far from a free-for-all, which is what a lot of people think of when they see the phrase open relationship.

    We are open about it to friends that we know and trust, and while we don’t feel any paticular guilt about it, we do have to keep it under wraps to the general public. My wife is an elementry school teacher, so you could imagine how things would go if that got out.


  • Indigo

    Without getting into page-breaking amounts of detail: I have been in a non-monogamous relationship, though not a marriage. While it took a nasty turn at the end for me, it had nothing to do with not being exclusive; neither of us was seeing anybody else at the time. It might even have been easier for me if my partner had been more on board with the idea of openness, not just for me but for him as well. (To sum it up, which hurts more to hear: “I love you both” or “I only love her”?)
    I’m in a fairly nebulous state, but I currently have a partner who is in an open relationship, and that’s worked well for them for the past two years. I’m open about it with trusted friends, even religious ones, but not my family; there are some people who I know just wouldn’t get it and it would only cause problems for them to know. This is actually a little strange to me, because most of my family is either non-religious or very liberal in their spiritual beliefs. If I were gay, for example, it would probably not be an issue, or not much of one, even for the older generation.
    I believe open marriage can work, if both partners are prepared to work at it. Some people say it sounds like too much effort, and I’m leery of those people: ALL relationships take effort, and at least my experience of non-monogamous people is that they take very little for granted. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a poly relationship fail due to miscommunication or a lack of trust (though I’m sure it happens), but I’ve definitely seen it occur in monogamous ones, including my own.

  • Ron in Houston

    Biology is just a general compass. It points in a certain direction but can never explain anything as complicated as human sexuality.

    I think there is a correlation between our biology and the prevalence of serial monogamy in society, but that still remains to be proven.

  • A Guy

    My wife and I have sometimes talked about maybe including some other sexual partners in our relationship. She had a bad experience with a threesome before I came along and that leaves her with some doubt. As for me, I’m the jealous type. not horribly so, but jealous none the less. The book sounds great though.


  • cb

    I love the idea of open relationships. though I’ve never had one, I really believe they can be happy situations for everyone involved. It does seem like they might involve more work though. But what do I know? It does sound…


  • Melissa

    I only attended church for two years during my high school days. And, honestly, I was too young and naive to notice much about relationships back then. I don’t imagine that any of the people in that small Southern Baptist church had open anything, much less relationships!

    My Joe and I have a somewhat non-traditional relationship, in that we are not married nor do we intend to marry. Or have children. This was actually one of the first things we discussed when we started dating, 11 years and 4 months ago.

    We are somewhat legal, in that we have had wills and powers of attorney and healthcare instructions drawn up, witnessed, signed, and notarized.

    We do not hide our relationship status from anyone. Our jobs know it, our friends know it, and our families know it, and are almost universally quite ok with it. We don’t get a lot of backlash, mostly curiosity and the occasional ‘so when are y’all getting married?’ questions.


  • zzbenz

    I don’t think relationships HAVE to be monogamous to work. I think that telling someone you’re monogamous when you’re actually not is WAY more hurtful. I also think, it’s probably a LOT harder to be in an open relationship than a monogamous one because you have to constantly communicate and deal with some very hard and confusing feelings. Plus, with how much men bitch about their girlfriends/wives, I’ve always wondered why they’d want to add in another to that mix. Obviously, there’s a lot of things to consider and I’m being brief because this is a comment.

    I’ve never attended church so I can’t speak about church going swingers…

    I’m currently in a basically monogamous, committed, ‘traditional’ relationship. We have an agreement that I could be with women if I wanted to be, but that’s pretty irrelevant because there hasn’t been opportunity for it. But, this works for us because my boyfriend knows I’m not interested in a relationship with a woman, so it’s not a threat to him; I wouldn’t leave him for a woman.

    (also – some people have nick named me ‘sadie’ so I thought it was funny to see a post from ‘Sexie Sadie’!)

  • James

    I’m currently in an open relationship and it works quite well for me. I’ve been with a wonderful girl for the last 4 years (our anniversary is actually in 5 days, yay!) and along the way we’ve both had a couple of relationships. And I do mean real relationships as flings and one night stands never held much interest for me.
    I love my girl to death and wouldn’t trade her for anyone, that doesn’t mean we can’t be the only people involved. I’m self aware enough to know my faults and where I can’t be everything I could be for her so we talked to each other and both supplemented our relationship where it was needed.
    Most people have had a successful relationship outside of the expected norm, and I for one am satisfied and still in love. We are both honest and open about anyone we’re attracted to which is pretty much vital to us. I have a budding relationship with someone I really like, but still maintained a strong love with someone I never want to be without.

    and because I like free books, Sexie.

  • Zoe

    My marriage is like a military unit consisting of two people. Our call sign is our common last name and we face the world and our battles together.


  • SecularLez


    why does the government need to be involved in any marriage?

    Had you read the entirety of my earlier post, you would see I am against ALL government-sanctioned marriage, not just same-sex marriage.

    I know all the little quips that the LGBT community and it’s allies use for those who are against same-sex marriage.

    I’d like for you to answer WHY the government needs to sponsor marriage.

    Why should one have to be married to someone to file a wrongful death suit?

    I would ask you to check out

    Here is an excerpt: “Meanwhile, the LGBT movement has recently focused on marriage equality as a stand-alone issue. While this strategy may secure rights and benefits for some LGBT families, it has left us isolated and vulnerable to a virulent backlash. We must respond to the full scope of the conservative marriage agenda by building alliances across issues and constituencies. Our strategies must be visionary, creative, and practical to counter the right’s powerful and effective use of marriage as a “wedge” issue that pits one group against another. The struggle for marriage rights should be part of a larger effort to strengthen the stability and security of diverse households and families. To that end, we advocate:

    Ø Legal recognition for a wide range of relationships, households and families – regardless of kinship or conjugal status.

    Ø Access for all, regardless of marital or citizenship status, to vital government support programs including but not limited to health care, housing, Social Security and pension plans, disaster recovery assistance, unemployment insurance and welfare assistance.

    Ø Separation of church and state in all matters, including regulation and recognition of relationships, households and families.

    Ø Freedom from state regulation of our sexual lives and gender choices, identities and expression.

    Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others. A majority of people – whatever their sexual and gender identities – do not live in traditional nuclear families. They stand to gain from alternative forms of household recognition beyond one-size-fits-all marriage.”


  • Maddie

    My husband and I have talked about this quite a bit…but it is SO taboo.


  • Charon

    “essentially in the toddlerhood of their lives (in their twenties)”

    Holy cow, my impression of her intelligence and/or writing is now approximately zero. Human lives are the one thing you can’t talk about in terms of a metaphorical lifetime.

    The toddlerhood of a human life is, well, toddlerhood.

    And as for the point she was trying to make – maybe some people are incompetent morons in their twenties, but a lot of us mature a little faster than that.

  • Charon

    “Only 100 years ago, the lifespan of a human being was around fifty years”

    Oh, and most of the gains in life expectancy in the past 100 years have to do with vastly reduced childhood mortality. I would guess the median length of marriage has decreased in the last 100 years (given the later age of first marriage, and the higher divorce rate), but can’t find the historical statistics at the moment.

    What a moron.

    Chacun à son goût, I say. If an open relationship works for them, party on. But feeling the need to justify it with nonsense is unacceptable.

  • Jessica

    I don’t know that I could handle two husbands…it sounds like an interesting book though…


  • cut.throat.jane

    My husband and I are young. I don’t really feel that young, I don’t feel old, but my entire life people have done nothing but tell me how young I am. I am a thinker. I live in my head and I think that has caused me to mature much faster than anyone I grew up with. It has also made me a very lonely person, in the way that it’s near impossible to make new friends (especially now that I am out of school and the only people I interact with at work are my patients) and most of the time I appreciate the loneliness. I have had plenty of relationships but my husband and I have a completely different relationship than we have ever had previously.

    We are very open with each other, more so than we have ever been with family or best friends. We have also explored things sexually that we would never dare mention outside our bedrooms to anyone. We fulfill each others fantasies. We mean the world to each other. I think it would be difficult for us to find satisfaction from someone else. The things we can’t get from best friends, we get from one another. We also don’t like the idea of us being in an open relationship, we have discussed it a few times and it doesn’t seem to be something we will try.

    I don’t really have anything against poly relationships except growing up in MO there isn’t a whole lot of talk about them here. I have a friend in a M-M-M relationship, I found it a little odd but mostly because that’s the way he treated it. I don’t blame him though, you have to be careful what you tell people around here. I think if no one is harmed and all parties are of age and consenting then be free and love. that’s all it’s really about anyway. we are happy and everyone deserves a chance to feel the same way.

  • crap, i’m way late to this party. i’m an expert on this topic. yes, some of us are polyamorous and it works just fine. i was in a monogamous marriage for 7 years and completely “faithful” to my partner. but it didn’t work out for us, for a host of reasons. the week before we split up, i realized that what i really wanted to be was polyamorous. and so i have practiced that every since.

    it’s not really that hard, esp these days with the internet and all that. i am completely up front to my lovers about my status; if someone sleeps with me or we have a relationship, they know they are not “the only one.” it’s amazing how many people have NO problem with that; there are way more ‘flexible’ partners out there than is generally known. i certainly don’t lack for them, and i don’t even live in DC or chicago anymore. it’s usually a simple matter of putting up a CL ad or somesuch; people want ‘free’ sex much more than they want the complicated trial of a ‘this could lead to a marriage’ sort of relationship.

    i’m a very happy person, most of the time. i have enough lovers such that i never feel lonely, and i’m not sorry i don’t have any children, although if i wanted to i suppose i could work them into the mix as well. being a ‘baby daddy’ or whatever is so common today no one cares if you have a ring to go with the lactating baby, or not. in fact, i’m a bit of a pariah in the queer community, because unlike so many queer activists, i have no interest in the gay marriage movement. whatever, we don’t need to emulate the Betty Crocker style straight community, there are other issues (like EDNA) which are much more important.

    anyway, polyamorous life is good. i recommend it to everyone. jealousy and possessiveness aren’t good things to have in one’s life, and marriage only encourages those things. “marriage” is a fiction like religion is a fiction. what matters are things like “do you all share equal financial responsibility in your partnerships” and “do you all have a good and fair schedule to take care of the kids” and “does everyone practice safer sex?” marriage is just a silly religion-based ceremony/ritual that makes grandmoms feel smug and keeps priests and rabbis from being homeless and unemployed. it shouldn’t ever be a topic for government either, except in the sense that it relates to property. in that way, marriage is discrimination, because right now i can’t marry any of my girlfriends, no matter how much one of them may convince me i want to. it’s wrong and unfair that straight people can reap the benefits of marriage (mostly financial) but i’m screwed as a queer person. it’s also unfair to the polyamorous, who aren’t allowed to form ‘marriages’ of more than two people, even if they are straight.

  • AxeGrrl

    SecularLez wrote:

    why does the government need to be involved in any marriage?

    Had you read the entirety of my earlier post, you would see I am against ALL government-sanctioned marriage, not just same-sex marriage.

    I know all the little quips that the LGBT community and it’s allies use for those who are against same-sex marriage.

    I’d like for you to answer WHY the government needs to sponsor marriage

    I don’t think that the government ‘has’ to recognzie/sponsor marriage ~ I have absolutely no qualms with the idea of the gov’t getting out it. But the reality now is that it does.

    Same sex marriage has been legal in Canada for somewhere between 5-8yrs (for 5yrs it’s been legal across the country) and my only point is that I think that anyone who wants to ‘avail’ themselves of the currently offered legal arrangement called ‘marriage’ should be allowed to do so.

    Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others. A majority of people – whatever their sexual and gender identities – do not live in traditional nuclear families. They stand to gain from alternative forms of household recognition beyond one-size-fits-all marriage”

    I completely agree. And I understand that there are disagreements regarding whether the LGBT community should fight for marriage rights ~ but, as long as marriage does exist as a legal reality, I think it should be available as an option to anyone who wishes to enter it. If a movement began here in Canada to abolish marriage for everyone, I would be supportive of that.

    My main point is that if it’s available to some, it should be available to all (and from your posts, I realize that we have no argument there).

  • AxeGrrl

    chicago dyke wrote:

    in that way, marriage is discrimination, because right now i can’t marry any of my girlfriends, no matter how much one of them may convince me i want to.

    But that doesn’t mean that marriage itself is ‘discrimination’ ~ it’s your lack of access to it that constitutes the discrimination.

  • Do relationships have to be monogamous in order to work?
    Certainly not. My relationship with my life partner has been working marvelously for over 12 years now. We were both involved with other people when we met, and we’ve been involved with various other people from time to time over the years. The key is that everybody involved is aware of the others and agrees to these involvements – there’s no cheating, and we’re all respecting each others’ boundaries.

    I’ve been polyamorous since my teens, and I’m in my 40s now. I’ve had many good polyamorous relationships in that time. I’ve also tried monogamy. It just wasn’t for me. I have nothing against it for those who prefer it, though.

    For those of you who attended church at some point, did you ever know couples who were in a non-traditional relationship? How did they reconcile their faith with their “unbiblical” marriage?
    I met my partner in a Unitarian Universalist congregation, and there are certainly other UUs in non-traditional relationships. While there are Christian UUs, we and the other people we happen to know personally who are in non-traditional relationships are not Christians, so we don’t have anything to reconcile.
    I grew up in an extremely conservative Protestant denomination, in which I was not aware of anyone openly involved in any non-traditional relationships.

    For anyone in a non-traditional relationship, are you open about it? To whom?
    We’re open to everyone about it, and happy that we’re able to live openly and honestly. It’s far simpler than remembering who knows who much.

  • Alex

    It’s great that this came up right now! In my law class this week we went into the civil union laws that passed here in NZ in 2004, and the background to it. In 1996 three lesbian couples were denied a marriage liscence, and appealed because our Marriages Act actually never defines marriage! Wasn’t successful, but I still think it’s great that this even happened.
    I didn’t realise it but, at least here, there are huge legal benefits to being in a traditional boy-girl marriage. Marriage isn’t even about love in that sense, always about rights, responsibility and property. But for whatever reason limiting marriages based on the boy:girl ratio involved seems stupidly arbitrary.


  • Heather

    I was in an open relationship for a couple of years. I am a jealous person so I didn’t want to know any details at all, but he didn’t care at all if I went over to another guy’s house or whatnot. Coming out of that I really feel like I deserve to be with someone who only wants to be with me. But I think it’s great for other people.


  • What I think about marriage? I’m kinda House: it doesn’t mean anything.

    How are you supposed to promise the way you are going to feel for the resto or your life. I don’t even know how I am going to feel tomorrow!

    Looking forward to get Sexie ‘s book. Seems like interesting and light reading.

  • Mishi

    I can’t handle monogamous relationships. I end up feeling guilty for being attracted to other people, and I think that you should never feel guilty for love.

    I enjoy surrounding myself with people who feel the same way; it’s a very freeing feeling to know that I can enter a room and flirt with whomever, without worrying about offending someone’s significant other…


  • agentM

    I’m currently in an open relationship with an absolutely awesome boyfriend of five years (we’re both homosexual males, bears if you will, lol). We live together, but generally are not jealous at all, and we’re both allowed to seek sexual stimulation outside of our relationship, with a few reasonable rules (being safe, keeping it outside our shared home unless we’re both involved, etc.).

    It’s interesting that this has come up, as we just recently got into a situation where we’ve met someone that has at least developed a huge crush on both of us, if not completely fallen in love… and would like a chance at being a part of our relationship.

    Now I’ve always considered myself very liberal when it comes to relationships (I’m one of those people who would rather the government not be involved in marriage at all)… so I’ve always told myself that I’d consider such an arrangement if it actually came up. My bf is a bit older (He’s 42 and I’m 32) so I was worried that he’d be resistant to such a thing (he’s a bit on the quiet side so sometimes it’s hard to tell how he really feels about something) but we have had a few quick discussions in the past and decided that it wasn’t something we were flat-out against.

    Now that it’s staring us in the face a bit more than it ever has, it’s been interesting, to say the least. We definitely have some feelings towards our third-party as well, so we’ve been talking a lot and trying to feel this out. Logistically things are a bit difficult as there’s some distance, so we know we need to move slowly, but so far I can say that just the act of considering someone has brought even more communication between the two of us (being open we were already pretty good in that department). It’s pretty cool I think, it’s sort of like we’ve had a chance to rekindle some of the romance that naturally falls off as the years go by.. I’m just not sure what the future holds.

    All in all I’m excited to consider such an arrangement… even if it doesn’t work out.

    As for the original question… uhh… no 🙂


  • Maddie

    Monogamy, or nonmonogamy, has NOTHING to do with the success of a relationship. COMMUNICATION does. Fidelity and secrecy is just as poisonous and doomed as fucking around and lying about it. My relationships have never failed because of openness, it’s always the human element of untruth and disrespect.


  • I forgot to end my message with the word!


  • I have been poly for a decade now. I find it interesting that most of the major leaders of the poly community are women. I think women have a lot to gain from the movement despite cultural norms. It is pretty clear from our biology, that we are NOT a monogamous species by any stretch, we might as well admit it and find rational ways to live, peaceably in well structured and satisfying poly relationships.

    Something to consider: Monogamy causes divorce.

  • All I know is it takes work and understanding to make any relationship work.


  • Ally

    Ooooh, this looks really interesting! I’d love to read it!

    As for marriage… I’ve always thought it’s a bit weird that we have in mind these ideals, these things that everyone is supposed to want and that are supposed to make everyone happy. And if you deviate from these things at all, well, you clearly must be kidding yourself, and if you deviate entirely, you must be insane.

    And love is one of them. Everyone wants to be in love! Who wouldn’t? But it’s not just any love – it MUST be romantic love, for one other person, preferable of the opposite sex, in a monogamous way. And sex, of course, is NOT one of them, except as a manifestation of your love for someone or a desire to have children, which are another thing.

    It just kind of puts everything out in the open, in public. Love – marriage – isn’t about the relationship between two people, it’s about fitting in with this universal societal ideal – or, rather, about appearing to fit into that ideal.

    But love is an intensely personal thing! The joining of two totally individual, unique people together – how could it be anything but? I remember reading somewhere once that love is an extremely vague term that just can’t fully capture all the different aspects of like and irritation and caring and protectiveness and security and all different sorts of things that form your feelings for a beloved person. That really, there should be as many different words for love as there are people you love, as the emotion is different every timme.

    And that’s why I don’t understand how people can argue that marriage has some kind of sacred, unearthly meaning that exists beyond humans. All language is defined by the people who use it, and for something as commonplace as marriage even more so. All marriages are different, because all people who get married are different. The difference between a good marriage and a bad marriage isn’t how long it lasts, or whether they’re monogamous or the opposite gender or do things the ‘traditional’ way, it’s how happy they make the people involved. And if a marriage wouldn’t make people happy, that’s fine, too!

    I think one of the most important things humans have to learn to interact well with one another is that other people are different to them. It sounds obvious, but I think it’s something we find really difficult! We get really jealous when we see our parter look at someone else, so we can’t understand how people could be happy in open marriages. We get turned on by the opposite gender and off by the same gender, so we can’t understand how people could be gay or bi. We really, strongly feel the presence of God in our lives, so we can’t understand how people could honestly not believe in his existence. Once we can actually learn to listen to people and try to understand where they’re coming from rather than just blindly push our own beliefs onto everyone else, we can be a much more tolerant – and honest, and accurate – society.


  • AxeGrrl

    Wonderful post, Ally 🙂

  • dune

    When I mention even a word about not being monogamous, my husband starts ranting about how he would commit a suicide if I ever loved someone else and makes me swear to him that our relationships will stay closed. He is also a gay hater, so that’s no big wonder. It’s just too upsetting how an otherwise rational and compassionate person can hold such disgusting views on certain subjects. He’s been atheist his whole life, which makes things even weirder.

  • Becky

    My husband and I have been openly poly for as long as we’ve been married (over ten years now). There have been times when both of us had other partners, times when only one of us did, and times when neither of us had any outside partners. We have come close to forming a live-in “quad” relationship with a couple in Richmond, but things just didn’t work out.

    I am also a UU, have been since 1990. But I have never included any outside relationships in my UU world, mostly because of outside partners lack if interest in church, not because of wanting to keep the two parts of my life separate.


  • Ross Cunningham

    I actually have some experience with non-monogamous relationships. From my experience, they work well for a while, as long as all involved are aware of it, but eventually either dissolve into a monogamous relationship or dissolve completely. I’m sure polyamorous relationships could work if everyone involved really loved each other, which was probably not the case when I was involved in one. Jealousy is definitely something to watch out for, though. Sexie.

  • Emily

    I’m in an open relationship. My partner is currently in Afghanistan. Our open relationship allows us to get our needs met while we’re apart. We’re open to almost everyone. He’s not out at work (for obvious reasons), but we’re out to almost everyone at home, except my extended family.

    I clearly do not think that a relationship needs to be monogamous to work. Our relationship has been amazing. I always felt stifled in monogamous relationships and never knew exactly what it was until I was in an open relationship. Now, it’s wonderful and it would take quite a lot for me to go back to being monogamous.

    Neither of us are religious. I grew up Catholic and am now an atheist. He is agnostic.


  • Ash Pryce

    Me and my fiance have just in the past few months decided to make our relationship open.

    Monogomy has always confused me, it just seems odd. I can’t get my head around it, and considering the amount of “closed” people I know who still actively lust over others I think it much more honest to, well, be honest and open.

    It may not work for everyone, but I feel that I love my fiance even more than before because we can be so honest and open with each other.

    As for being public about it, well in the 21st century facebook is about as public as you can get and both of our statuses say clearly we are in an open relationship. Some people have commented that they find the idea of open relationships disgusting but that’s totally the wrong word and adds to the stigma.

    As long as its legal and doesn’t hurt anyone -Unless of course you’re in to that ;)- then I dont see why its a problem. In the 200,000 years of human existence we’ve only been monogomous for a relatively short time (The suggetsion is that it started with our development of agriculture).

    Live and let live. And yes open relationships can and do work.

  • Liz

    I’ve been married for almost 8 years and together with my husband for about 10 years. We have been polyamorous for the majority of our years together. The only real rules we follow (and can also be applied to any relationship) are: be honest and open in frequent communication, and make sure everything is consensual. Other than that, there are no true hard and fast rules. We are open about our relationship to many people, with the exception of our highly religious, ultra conservative families. This arrangement has worked very well for us.


  • Aky

    I’m sorry, I don’t have the time to read all the comments right now, but here’s my thought (yes, I am more than a bit weird):

    I have never understood the issue of jealousy. I have never understood how it’s considered okay to have more than one friend, and to only have one sexual partner. People have different friends for different reasons, and some people have best friends, some people see all their friends as equal, some have groups of friends that don’t associate with each other… Friendship is a fluid concept, and there really isn’t a reason that sex should be a rigid thing with hard rules (except for the perversions churches have established).

  • Rebecca

    My husband and I have gone through many extreme changes. We were VERY Catholic, very conservative politically, and very monogamous when we married 23 years ago (after being exclusively together for 4 yrs). Today, we are atheists, bleeding hearts and in an open marriage.

    The atheism and shift to liberal leanings occurred about 12 years ago. By that time we had three children, our youngest a toddler.

    We have been in an open marriage for 2 years now. Basically, we realized that we married very young with very few sexual partners respectively. We felt that we had enough trust and communication to enter into this type of arrangement. We felt it was important (this being our one and only life) to have these experiences.

    Jealously is an issue. In order to combat this we have set some ground rules. Don’t ask, Don’t tell. We don’t share ANY details and meet any lovers surreptitiously, lying about our plans if necessary. We communicate frequently about OUR relationship and we are intimate with each other often. We both agree with and abide by the parameters we have set.

    I find my marriage is much stronger than before. I am grateful to my husband for being open minded enough to trust me and for being secure enough to know that he is my life’s partner even if we engage in sex with others. But mostly I am grateful to him for allowing me these pleasures and I wish the same for him.

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