While it works, it works great. But they sure go down in flames a lot.
For This Couple, Nothing Much Changed
“We set up a lot of ground rules initially, things like you can’t hang out with that person all the time and sleep with them more than 3 times etc., things that would mean that you were now in a relationship with someone else (we wanted open play, not poly relationships). Now we just can’t be bothered seeing other people and the bedroom play was never as good as with each other. We might bring in a person to jointly play with once or twice a year, but we’re kind of just ‘over’ seeing other people. Honestly, mostly the same as before we were open.”
The Other Woman Is Okay With It Too
“I am in a friends with benefits deal with a guy AND sometimes the girl in an open relationship. They have been together since high school, and we are all in our 30’s now. They do have a kid together. I have been with one or the other, or both, but I have never even met the kid. If it’s with both of them, they send the kid to a sitter and we go to their house. If it’s one or the other, we either get a room or go to my place. It seems to work very well with them as long as the 3rd party is cool with it. He has tried numerous girls over the years, but they always want more, or don’t like the fact that his SO comes first. I don’t want a relationship right now, so it works out great for me (it’s been going on for about 7 years now, off and on).”
His Quest For A “Friend With Benefits” Developed Into Something Much More
“After a lot of arguing between my husband and me about the lack of intimacy in our relationship (I have a very low libido because of medications I have to be on). We finally came to an agreement that he could find a friend with benefits. We agreed to some ground rules beforehand, like he couldn’t spend more time with her than with me, he had to be safe, I wanted to know before he did anything (not immediately before, but I needed a heads’ up that he was interested in someone), and if he started developing feelings, he was to immediately drop it.
He started looking and everything was fine. He’d show me some steamy texts he’d been exchanging every now and then, and it was fine; I really wasn’t jealous and I was glad he was having fun and was at least somewhat being satisfied when I couldn’t help him.
Then he came home and told me he was leaving me for someone else. He hadn’t even had physical relations with her yet. And now he’s gone.
I’m not at all saying that open marriages are bad. I think if he had been happy with the rest of our marriage like I was (and maybe had been more mature, who knows), it could have worked. I really do believe 100% that I would have been okay with it; I am not at all a jealous person and I’ve had my own friends with benefits before. But I do believe that if we hadn’t opened the door, so to speak, he wouldn’t have left, or at least not nearly as soon, and not for someone else, but who knows.”
He Showed His Ex How He Feels About It
“My ex tried to convince me that being gay and monogamous isn’t natural and monogamy was a system I had been brainwashed into. Every fiber of my being was telling me that I wanted to be monogamous but he was so convincing.
I resented him. He would bring home guys and hook up with them while I was studying in the other room. I specifically told him that I didn’t like when he had relations in our bed while he wasn’t away on business. He told me I was being too jealous and that I shouldn’t be such a prude.
So I gave him a dose of his own medicine. My ex was a very superficial homosexual. There was one guy, a 6’8” 32-year-old who was built like a brick house. This man would make my boyfriend cry, so when the ex walked in on me hooking up with him (who was much better looking than my ex), he lost it.
The relationship ended that night.
Polyamory isn’t for me and never will be. You can call me regressive but I enjoy a committed relationship with ONE man.”
A Woman Lets Her Man Date, But He Is Uncomfortable With The Rules
“A friend of mine was just allowed to have an open relationship (open for him, closed for her) by his girlfriend. She has medical issues that prevent intimacy. After months of this, it caused arguments and tension in their relationship so he asked her if he can see other women on the side, she said no. He dealt with it, never cheated (I would know because he would have told me). Then one day out of the blue she told him he could see other women on the side. He wanted it to be so that he’d tell her who she is, maybe have them meet, set some ground rules/boundaries, etc, but, she wanted to be completely out of the loop entirely. However, he isn’t comfortable with seemingly creeping behind her back so he declined her offer. They’re still together and have only been together less than a year so we’ll see how it goes.”
And They All Lived Together Happily Ever After
“I’m part of a triad. We’ve all been together for about six years now. My wife and I met online about eight years ago, through playing the same online game. We started talking, and soon found ourselves typing, skyping, and texting for sixish hours a day. Both the wife and I have histories of not really doing well with monogamy. I’m bi, she’s pan, and neither of us attributes significant importance to physical intimacy. We knew early in our relationship that exclusivity was not wanted or welcome by either of us. Due to the long-distance nature of our relationship, we had nearly as much experience with third, fourth, or fifth parties in our bed as we did with just the two of us.
Emotional attachments outside our relationship were strictly verboten, however. This is where things got unpleasant about two years in. I had introduced the wife to an online friend of mine. He and I had always gotten along well, though it was strictly platonic at the time (I assumed he was straight, so I never really considered anything else). A few months pass as the wife and he get to know each other, and rather intense romantic feelings develop. Once she realizes what’s going on, she and I have a very uncomfortable, downright painful talk that nearly ended us. Instead, I decided to try to work things out first before just giving up and wallowing in self-pity and anger.
The three of us arranged to meet up in person for the first time, and the chemistry was just there almost from the get-go. Once I let go of the fear of loss, our relationship just felt right. The wife and I married about six months later, and boyfriend moved in with us a few months after that. We’ve been together ever since, and plan to stay that way.
We all sleep in the same king-sized bed, and though we’ve tried group play a few times, we find it’s easier to manage one-on-one. I haven’t felt jealousy in years now, other than a few twinges of envy when work schedules have prevented me from spending time with each of them as much as I’d like. For me, I can’t even wrap my brain around the idea of being jealous of the two of them. They are the two people I love most in this world, and when the people I love most do things to make each other happy, I can only feel ecstatic.”
A Man Misses His Old Poly Marriage
“I was in an open relationship for 20 years, the marriage broke up over money and deployment to Saudi Arabia in early 1990s.
Married in the mid-’70s. Neither my wife or I was interested in a traditional marriage so we excluded fidelity from vows. We both enjoyed male, female, male situations with her as the pivot. She also enjoyed one night stands while I preferred long-term relationships with women (I enjoyed learning how to push their buttons). In the ’80s, we had to dial the rate back quite a bit due to the onset of AIDS. We had two-decade-long relationships with two men, one of whom lived with us for much of that time. It was an extraordinary experience and I miss it.
It wasn’t easy but it was intense. Given the circumstances, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Currently, in a monogamous relationship, wish it were otherwise but my present wife just isn’t into high-intensity bedroom sessions.”
Apparently, It’s All About Scheduling
“I was in polyamorous relationships for about 10 years, and for 5 of those years, I was married.
When I met my ex-husband we were both interested in exploring non-monogamy and didn’t see the need for strict monogamy in longterm relationships. It was fun, terrible, super steamy, really difficult, and at some moments, felt like the best thing ever.
Things I learned that you will likely need to do in poly/non-mono relationships:
-plan/schedule everything, your life gets super busy -tons of time will also be spent talking about EVERYTHING
-negotiate and renegotiate rules, peoples’ boundaries change
-be endlessly committed to self-reflection and personal growth
-be ready for exercising your patience for DRAMA, even those trying to avoid it have drama because if you and your partner are dating multiple people you end up with a huge connected network and drama surely happens somewhere in that network at certain points.
I feel like I gained some valuable skills and insight during my time practicing non-monogamy (like communication skills, managing my emotions, learning more about what’s most important to me, learning how to be good at being alone, being super awesome at negotiating boundaries, etc.) While in my heart I still feel like I’m more naturally inclined toward non-monogamy than monogamy, I’ve actually found that monogamy suits me better in this current world/reality.”
This Guy Finds It Hard To Date While His Partner Does Not
“Not married, but been together 7+ years and have a kid. Is going pretty good although I’m a bit frustrated that I’m finding it difficult to date outside the relationship while she finds it easy. I feel like I was monogamous before meeting her simply for lack of opportunity and not because I had any real need to be monogamous. It takes a LOT of work for me to meet someone and I haven’t gotten any better at it over the years. So basically I’m monogamous in a poly relationship. So that’s kind of awkward.
Dating is actually even MORE difficult because not a lot of women want to date a poly guy.”
A Very Healthy Poly Relationship
“Not married but definitely in for the long haul. We both think of honesty and trust in a relationship as VERY important. Neither one of us has ever cheated or were cheated on by the time we met in our mid-twenties, and generally didn’t bring any trust issues into our relationship. We started out monogamous, neither having had any non-monogamous experiences before.
Pretty quickly we noticed how good of a match we were. Ridiculously compatible. We absolutely didn’t feel any jealousy or threatened by other people because we were so comfortable and happy with each other. So about a year in, we decided there’s no harm in having some fun with other peeps, with our only rule being that everything is okay as long as it doesn’t influence our relationship negatively.
We never explicitly declared what flavor of non-monogamous relationship we’re having, but over time we moved from non-serious flings to also having feelings for another person. By now I’d define it as hierarchical polyamory, with us being the primary partners. It was and still is surprisingly uncomplicated between the two of us!
I think the fact that we started from a place where we were stupidly happy (and not trying to fix a rocky relationship) was what made it so easy. Sure, there were some insecurities at first when telling or hearing about each other’s experiences. But we both felt like being close to other people made us appreciate each other even more. Like thinking: ‘Yeah, this is fun and super nice and everything, but it’s not the same as with us.’
We really lucked out big time, and from what I see in the poly scene it’s definitely not standard that couples transition that easily/find polyamory that manageable. But I still feel like out of all relationships I personally know, I’m in the happiest and healthiest. I couldn’t wish for more”
Her Wife Has Needs That Must Be Met
“It’s not cut and dry.
I have a low intimate drive and my wife does not. I am a lesbian and my wife is not, she is bi. She remains attracted to men, despite being married to me.
With those two things in mind, we developed a method (with strict boundaries and rules) for her to explore her interest in others. It’s usually a friend with benefits situation, but there has been a one-night stand (which violated several rules and we had a heavy argument about it).
Our rules are as follows:
No surprises. I want to know when you realize you’re attracted to someone and to know in advance when you plan to or want to pursue something.
No dating. I don’t want my wife having another relationship, I just want her physical needs met where I cannot meet them.
No doing the deed unprotected unless we’re very familiar with that person, and even then, birth control is required on her end.
That’s pretty much it. I want to know when it’s happening, who it’s happening with, and that she’s safe. There are some other nuances that aren’t exactly ‘rules,’ but that I prefer. I would rather it not happen in my house so that I don’t have to look at it or go somewhere else.”
For This Guy, Life Is About More Than Just Friction Between The Sheets
“My wife and I have been married for 15 years and together for 21. We both know that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. You know, sitting on the front porch together yelling at kids to stay off the grass. We also know that stuff happens and people will be attracted to others and monogamy is difficult. So, why throw away 40 years of marriage for 30-60 minutes of fun/lack of better judgment. So instead of being jealous and overbearing, we decided to embrace it. We have visited social clubs for those with like minds and have been with other couples. It is an interesting experience and one we are quite enjoying. Her drive is a little higher than mine so she has joined other couples herself. She did recently fly solo with another guy. Afterward, she felt a little odd (guilty I assume). I am fine with it, it’s just bumping uglies. Have fun with life. Life should be about experience. On my deathbed, I care more about reflecting on how I lived my life and what I experience than the money in my bank account or car in my driveway….”
There Are Rules And There Is Honesty and Both Matter
“I am not in the relationship, but I am in a friend with benefits setup with a guy in an open relationship. I have known about it from the beginning and don’t have any issues with it. I appreciate that everything is on the up and up. There are no lies and no disappointment. They have each other’s hearts, and that won’t change, but they both enjoy getting it on with others so it benefits them to continue that arrangement. Their rules are that there are no overnights, they must tell the other person where they’re going, and they must use protection.
I have not met her but I would.
I don’t know how I’d feel if I were the girlfriend and not just the side piece. My heart is not invested so it’s easy for me to have him over and send him home after. But for them, it removes all of the deceit so they’re not cheating on each other. They’re still happy and get to have the physical fulfillment they want. I appreciate them for that.”
A Man Believes There Will Always Be Some Jealousy
“I was monogamous most of my life, but maybe 2 years ago, I dated a poly girl (single, both of us). I remained monogamous, she had several other boyfriends, at least a couple of which I met (at a party – no, not a play party). To my surprise, I was totally cool with it/them. While dating, we discussed the philosophy of monogamy and non-monogamy (which I prefer to ‘polyamorous’ for reasons not worth going into here). She had me read a book, ‘Opening Up,’ which I found very interesting and illuminating.
Sometime later, we broke up, I moved on to a really bad relationship (monogamous). When that ended horribly, I realized that that other person’s problem would have been no problem if we’d gone into the thing non-monogamously. In a nutshell, she is very non-monogamous, but she won’t admit it to herself, so she just swings from tree to tree, usually not more than a parting hand on one branch while reaching for the next tree’s branch. You know the type, I hope.
Anyway, my realization that this would have been a workable relationship if communication about other connections had been free and open really changed my perspective, and I began to see elements in my own personality that were in alignment with open, honest, ethical non-monogamy. That’s where all parties are fully informed, ideally have at least become acquainted, even if virtually. No secrets about relationships need to be kept.
I contacted her, told her I’d come around to her way of thinking. And just like that, I was non-monogamous. She and I (slowly) began dating, around the time I started also dating several other women, all of whom knew I dated others, and that I actually expected that they would (date others) too.
This is more than friends with benefits, usually. We go for loving, close and supportive relationships, but we do it with several people (apart from one another). We don’t live together (any of us). But I have dated girls from married or committed couples, as long as I could (usually) meet their SO first, to assure they were on board. My one time I let that rule slip didn’t go well (he wasn’t as on board with her seeing others as she’d thought).
So, at one point, I had four mostly regular girlfriends, two of whom were monogamous to me (but knew), one of which was interested in non-monogamy, the other not, but neither ever did anything non-monogamous while we were together. Two others were avowedly non-monogamous, one separated with 2 kids, the other was the single girl I first mentioned.
I would say unless everything is on a completely casual basis (and even then) there is some jealousy – some insecurities, but people doing this mindfully recognize this and seek to understand it in themselves and gain control, even mastery, over it.”
The Rules Make It Work In This Relationship
“From the straight side of things, my wife’s and I have a rule system in our relationship.
No random hook-ups. If either of us wants to pursue a specific person, the other partner MUST be told in advance and give their ‘ok.’ Just doing the deed with someone and coming home and reporting it is not cool.
Physical only. Seeking emotional connections outside our relationship is completely out of bounds and inappropriate. If either of us feels like our emotional needs aren’t being met, we have to work that out.
Always using protection is a given, really. We both recognize the importance of that wholeheartedly.
Most of the straight couples we meet are much more loose with how they pursue relations outside of their primary relationship.”