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Open Relationships

MintMilanoMintMilano Posts: 181 Mod Squad
So I'm going to a big LGBTIQ festival in Lismore over NYE called Tropical Fruits. I'm going with my new-ish boyfriend (will be 3 months at the end of December) and a whole bunch of our friends, and this festival is well known for being very open and accepting, sex positive and body positive, anti-slutshaming - basically a big fun celebration of diverse sexuality. So as you can imagine, there's a lot of promiscuous sex going on, and everyone's enjoying themselves. My boyfriend and I have had the talk to say we're not sleeping with anyone else and are monogamous, but I know he's been to this festival before without a boyfriend and... had a lot of fun, I guess you could say  :D

We're both very sexually open people, but at such an early time in our relationship I'd prefer that we stayed monogamous. But I feel like this festival might be temptation to do a bit of exploring, so I feel like it's something I want to bring up with him before we go, even if it is to agree to stick to strict monogamy. But he's never actually brought up the topic of opening the relationship - either temporarily at the festival or more permanently - so I'm not sure how to bring it up without giving him the wrong idea about what I actually want. 

Does anyone have experience with negotiating an open or non-monogamous relationship? How did you bring it up with your partner? Was it difficult or awkward? 


  • stephaniaaaahstephaniaaaah Posts: 117 Community Manager
    Your post got caught up in the spam queue @MintMilano :'( :'(  How was Tropical Fruits? I have a few friends that go every year and they LOVE it and yes they say it is a great spot to meet new people and run around having lots of fun sex!

    I've been in two open relationships (both bf's had the same name too EEP!) - I think that it is easier to start the relationship saying that it is open, rather then to agree to not have sex with other people, then to navigate wanting to explore other options later on.  In saying this, two of my friends announced last year that they are 'opening' up their marriage, after 7 years of marriage!

    If you explain in the way that you have on here (that you think it's a great opportunity to just have some fun, for the duration of the festival), then the worst he can say is 'no' or 'I'm not comfortable with that'. 

    It can be a little awkward or difficult to negotiate 'rules' or DTR (define the relationship) at any stage! I have just met someone (1 month ago) and we haven't had the DTR that we are a couple or monogamous, but when I saw his Bumble notification buzz on his phone last week I was all like "oh, are you keeping your options open, because if you are that's totally fine, I just need to know where you are at and that we are on the same page".  I found that even a little bit awkward to say!  :s

  • EarthMamaEarthMama Posts: 149 Mod Squad
    @MintMilano That festival sounds superb!! Would love to know how it went...
    I agree with what @stephaniaaaah said about how awkward it can be. I have had a few not so positive experiences with a relationship becoming open post-monogamy and without proper discussion. So my advice also is just about communication. Better to over-talk than under-talk and have somebody end up hurt. 
  • EarthMamaEarthMama Posts: 149 Mod Squad
    @MintMilano I am so glad to hear you had an awesome time and that your communication with your boyfriend paid off too! How lovely that you are so committed to one another :)
  • stephaniaaaahstephaniaaaah Posts: 117 Community Manager
    @mintmilano so happy that it worked out well in the end and you were able to have such an open discussion! 100% worth it for sure
  • peachypeachy Posts: 183 Mod Squad
    @MintMilano that festival sounds amazing! Hope it's alright to broaden out the conversation a bit here, but I'm wondering if anyone could share how they knew open relationships were right for them? It's something I've always been interested in but wondered whether it would be the right thing for me. I love the idea of 'compersion' (being happy and excited for your partner when they're with someone else) but can it be emotionally exhausting having feelings for more than one person?
  • MintMilanoMintMilano Posts: 181 Mod Squad
    @peachy I think having feelings for more than one person can be emotionally draining for sure, but I think that's more polyamory, or having multiple relationships, than an open relationship. Most people I know who are in open relationships might have sex with other people, either with their partner or without, but at the end of the day they only have one emotional partner who they're in a relationship with, and who they love and do all the non-sexual relationship things that people do. 
    I've clearly wondered if open relationships were right for me. My previous partner was quite jealous and a bit controlling, and unfortunately I think a little bit of that rubbed off on me, but I'd like to think in the right circumstances that I'd trust my partner enough to keep our sex life/lives open and exciting. But I guess it's not for everyone. 
  • HoneyPotHoneyPot Posts: 123 Mod Squad
    Thanks for posting about this @MintMilano ! So lovely to hear you had a great time at the festival and that you were able to have an open honest chat about this stuff, cause it's REALLY hard!
    It can definitely be emotionally draining having feelings for or being with multiple people - one relationship can be draining sometimes! 10 years ago I thought I'd never be monogamous, I was always in open relationships or poly, and a lot of the time it was awesome. And when it was not awesome I think it was because I wasn't supposed to be with that person, not because we were poly. I then left a poly relationship to be mono with someone and I think (like you said happened to you) he turned out to be really controlling and jealous and I thought that's what monogamy was and it totally rubbed off on me.
    I'm in a mono relationship now with someone really great where we talk openly about our insecurities and the damages from past relationships, but I still have a lot of unlearning to do.
    Sometimes the key is just being with someone who is really great and deserves you, whether your poly or mono :)
  • veryelleveryelle Posts: 15 Mod Squad
    Thank you @MintMilano for starting this thread. It’s really great to hear you brought it up with your boyfriend and were able to talk about it! It definitely takes trust, courage and maturity to talk about these things. It must have been a relief to know you were both on the same page though! 

    I think these types of conversations are always really difficult at first. And whether we realise or not, I’d say one reason they’re so hard is because we care about the other person in some way or other, which means we’re a little bit vulnerable to their response. I think one quality of a good relationship is mutual respect for each other, including giving our partners space to express what’s on their minds and being open-minded to hearing what they are saying (even when it can be hard to receive). Of course, it works best when this is all reciprocated :smile:
  • MintMilanoMintMilano Posts: 181 Mod Squad
    Thanks for sharing everyone :) Even in a monogamous relationship, I'm still relearning how to be more open minded about sex and attraction. My boyfriend will always check out other guys and point out people who he thinks are hot. It kind of bothered me at first, but I think it's kind of stupid to expect someone to deny their physical attraction to anyone else simply because they have a partner. Him checking out other guys doesn't mean he loves me any less, and looking is pretty harmless. And since we're both gay guys, I could do the exact same thing, and it turns into more of a debate or discussion in the end. I think I'm a long way off being comfortable in an open relationship, but I think the better we get at not policing each others attractions or desires, which are completely human and normal and natural, the happier we will be. 
  • EarthMamaEarthMama Posts: 149 Mod Squad
    This is such great discussion and I totally agree with what you said @MintMilano about not expecting your partner to deny their physical attraction. I think it is so important to remember that sexuality is an individual identity and experience. When we get into a relationship with another, that does not mean we suddenly have one shared sexuality and therefore it is so important to validate the individual experience. The magic of relationship is that someone is choosing you! Not by default, or for lack of other options, but even with the myriad of other possibilities!
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