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Open Marriage Skepticism

I love the New York Times, but last week they irritated the ever-living fuck out of me by running their Open Marriage series on the online front page — for days. (Really NYT, isn’t there enough insanity in our daily news cycle without having to plumb the shallow depths of “Daniel’s” dissatisfaction with vanilla sex?)

“Does Open Marriage Make a Marriage Happier?” asked the Finest News Fit to Print. Which seems to me a sort of challenge to the conventionally married — hey, are you maximizing your happiness to the ultimate degree? And if not, why not? Oh, here’s a novel idea — bring new partners into your marriage and recapture that zing!

Except it’s not a new idea, this whole Monogamy Is for Squares schtick. Anyone remember the 1970s? I do. My sandbox friends Brendan and Gilbert’s parents got divorced after they tried open marriage. See, Gilbert’s mom and Brendan’s dad decided they enjoyed this new partner arrangement a bit too much, and that didn’t sit well with Brendan’s mom, who came after them with a gun. (She had six children, I can see how she might’ve temporarily lost her mind at the prospect of single parenting.) She didn’t kill them, she got the divorce she didn’t want instead. (Not to worry. She found lasting love later with a very nice architect.) Gilbert’s mom killed herself a few years later.

Good times!

And I remember this particular bit of childhood suburban psychodrama because I came home and told my mom that I was going to marry Brendan some day. But then divorce him. Because that’s what grown-ups did.

I’m sure the edgy and sophisticated would tell me that the problem back then was divorce, not polyamory. And if Brendan’s mom could just shake off the shackles of her conventional upbringing and learn to share Brendan’s dad with Gilbert’s mom (love is not finite!), she could enjoy the attentions of Suzy’s dad, and everything would be copacetic! And we could avoid the dreaded specter of Brendan’s mom divorcing and finding a nice man who respects her.


The other problem I had with this New York Times article, is that I had the misfortune of reading it immediately after I read “You’re My Only” by Linda Kass, who describes her parents’ Greatest Generation romance. They had fled Nazi occupation as young people, lived through World War II, settled down to middle-class normalcy in Columbus, Ohio — and loved each other ardently until death. Take a moment, read the article, have a nice sob, now tell me your thoughts on open marriage. If you’re pressed for time, just look at this picture.

Should we pity these people for their monogamy?

I am skeptical about open marriage — and let me say for the record that open marriage is NOT infidelity. As long as you’re being above board about your choices, and following agreed upon sets of rules of engagement, that’s not cheating. But let me also point out that polyamory is no defense against infidelity. All it takes to be chumped is for one side to unilaterally change the relationship terms. Cheating is a character problem, not a monogamy problem.

But back to my skepticism. Here’s what I don’t get — WHERE DO YOU PEOPLE FIND THE TIME?

I don’t know about you, but my life is full to the brim with job, spouse, kids, aging parents, friends I don’t have time to see, car registrations, deadlines, my Netflix queue, grown-out roots, expiring gym memberships, plants that need watering… I mean, FUCK, I can’t get my basic adult-ing done in 24 hours, so morality aside, where would I find time for an auxiliary boyfriend?

I can’t get past that basic math — that to devote time to polyamory takes time from something or someone else (see child, aging parents, spouse).

Here’s another part of the calculus. Sometimes (okay MOST of the time) my child, my aging parents, and my spouse are not maximum, super awesome fun. Sometimes they even kind of… (sorry!) suck. Like my son is home from college for one day and informs me at 3 p.m. that oh hey, he needs new contact lenses, a physical, and tire rotation on his car today. That kind of thing.

And how would I guard against the beautiful escapism of polyamory when I have shit to do? I could take my father to his chemo appointments, or I could have a lovely naughty weekend with the boyfriend. Who picks up the slack? My husband? I would always have the option of checking out — and how is that a good thing? If my husband is sick or filing the bills in an irritating manner, I would have the option of running to my healthy boyfriend who never asks me to time-stamp things. How would I not compare? How is it that everyone isn’t pick me dancing constantly?

Also, I’m not a joy to live with either. So do I have to worry when I’m sick and infirm or not properly time-stamping things that my husband is enjoying his girlfriend more than me? Oh sure, it’s his job to reassure me, and we have these Rules of Engagement we’ve just agreed upon, but let’s face it, she’s probably younger than me and files better.

I prefer monogamy. Not because I love captivity or vanilla sex or Columbus, Ohio — but because I believe in being cherished. And isn’t that really what everyone wants? To win the pick me dance definitively and enjoy devotion?

It seems to me the cheating cake eaters and the open cake eaters (all the coupledom! none of the monogamy!) want devotion just fine, but they don’t want to devote exclusively. And to me, devoting yourself to another is where the joy is — to write to your dying husband “You are my one and only” and mean it. And to hear in return, “You are my treasure.”

Maybe you need to flee Nazis or survive World War II to sufficiently appreciate the simple pleasures of stability and a loving spouse. Maybe this age is beset with too many choices. But I believe in One and Only’s. Besides, thanks to monogamy, my life is less complicated and no one is coming after me with a gun.

Photo credit: Linda Kass at Full Grown People

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      My mom was majorly depressed; my parents fought and said mean things to each other. My mom was so sick she went to the psych ward. It showed me how much my dad loved my mom, even in the worst of it. When her hair was matted and she wore the same robe for months, and hardly spoke. He visited every day, helping her, loving her, worried for her. I know even in rocky times that monogamy is for me. I can see what it takes and I see what love looks like. P.s. my mom is better now.

      • I love your story!!! For better or worse were the wedding vows after all. Unconditional love is what most of us want.

        The flip side is, meaning those vows is exactly why I stayed after Dday1 & opened myself to the deepest kind of hurt I could of ever imagined 12 years later. Ugh! Thanks for sharing your parent’s story which shows what true unconditional love looks like. Your father is one amazing man!

  • The thing that bothered me the most is that the central couple in the piece was actually non-ethical — or started out non-ethically, and by treating all arrangements the same, the NYT actually condoned the old line of thinking: “Cheating? Oh, this old thing? No, it’s just that we have an open marriage. What, you did not guess that? I wasn’t lying or sneaking around, I was just having an open marriage which you failed to notice. And if you have a problem with that, you’re really close-minded.”

    People can make all sorts of agreements. As long as they are consensual. And they do not pr

    • That got sent before the time. Sorry.

      So: as long as both partners give their informed consent, have *prior* knowledge, and are *full* partners in an arrangement, you can have whatever agreement you want, within legal limits. But let’s not normalize one-sided, secretive and abusive behavior as “open marriage.” It ain’t.

      • I kind of feel like NYT chose really terrible open marriages to feature on purpose. If the question is “are open marriages better?” And then they feature cheaters and abusers, the answer to be determined is “no, open marriages are not better.”

        They didn’t pick relationships where people started open, they didn’t talk about they each handle jealousy and time management. They chose to feature cheaters. Let alone the fact that people who announce to the world via newspaper that they’re open tend to be attention seekers, anyway.

        Lots of people have quiet arrangements with their spouses which aren’t shitty and demeaning. Lots of couples, triads, and polycules operate nicely, but they don’t get featured. Everyone can understand a cheating dynamic where one spouse holds the relationship hostage “so this or we’re over.” Most people aren’t interested in the normal mundane aspects of this lifestyle.

    • “And if you have a problem with that, you’re really close-minded.” – Battle cry of the covert-aggressive .

      I am not sure how it works either. I mean I’m a one woman man. To think that my woman is being affectionate with another man would make me jealous as hell. No arrangement could fix that. Not that ‘she’s mine’ or anything, just that I thought I was that special person.

      And I guess that’s where it lands? To be in on open marriage you must not think of your spouse as very special. Maybe they are just an accessory? Maybe they all are?

      I don’t think trying to understand this with a chump mind is working. I can feel my brain shorting out.

      • An open marriage is a situation where everybody enjoys being a triangulating Narc.
        These are the people who could never have love, so they chose power instead.
        A chump will never get truly wrap his/her head around it.

        • I saw a doco on it and they focused on one women and two men. It was really awful and there was clearly a favourite man. It kind of reminded me of the popularity competition games people played in high school, no thanks.
          I’ve had a version of this thrown at me, ex is trying to creep back and doesn’t mind if I have a boyfriend, clearly doesn’t know me very well

          • LadyB,

            Tell ex it’s great that he doesn’t mind if you have a boyfriend, but you’re done with him.


        • This is an excellent point.

          It is a hypotenuse from Hell. It is also an obscene bargaining chip in monogamy- for that option to even be on the table.

          I love you but, I crave that first kiss stomach flip. Let’s explore that together to make our relationship better. What a pig in a poke.

          When you say no to that shit sandwich, you get the false “but I tried to save the relationship” manipulation.

          Romantic love is exclusive. None of the magnificent love stories that capture our imagination for the eons involved our heroine getting plowed by Ford, the 24 year old hipster, while she pines for her Man.

          Anything else is just getting your rocks off, no matter how elitists at NYT package it as edgy, alternative lifestyle or a think piece.

      • I had never even considered open marriage at the time that I married my STBX. Of course, OF COURSE, it came up after DDay. I’m a one man kind of woman as well.

        I’m with CL here and I had the EXACT same argument with my STBX on this subject of open marriage. Open marriage is, quite frankly, complicated. In my opinion, life is complicated enough. Plus, there are other things that I want to pursue in life instead of just romance after romance or the proverbial stomach flip first kiss that Cora H. is talking about. I have other things that take up my time that I enjoy and still want to pursue. Plus, when it comes to relationships, I would like to enjoy a full journey instead of just always looking for the next exciting moment that makes us crazy about each other. Creating a long-term relationship requires big investments of time that are meant to pay dividends in the long run. That’s what I want and have never received from my STBX.

        There are additional investments in these open marriage situations that just blow my mind as well. Financial. What about gifts at Christmas and birthdays or any other holiday? What about kids? Do you have kids with partners outside your spouse in the open marriage situation? How would that work? From what I can tell, these relationships are terribly, terribly messy. No thanks. I’d rather be single if that’s sophisticated.

        • What about kids marriage detective? who cares? they’ll get over it, when they’re younger alternate weekends, holidays, which one will be attending school events, maybe both sets of parents attend, who to walk up to afterwards, getting used to seeing their parents with different partners, having to spend holidays without the other parent, no big deal.
          Children eventually become adults, they have families of their own, babies, children and now they have the continued pleasure of juggling holidays, birthdays, events not only with their in-laws but between their parents dragging their families from house to house on holidays, birthdays, each home with different rules including the new spouses weird extended “family.” If they host an event or holiday at their home which parent do they invite and which one will feel left out. Cheaters or whatever title they choose don’t care because it’s not their problem. It’s all about them. Selfishness shatters their children’s security, the world as they’ve known it Messy and shitty, like an endless bout of explosive diarrhea.

  • Shame on you NYT! I prefer their beautifully written and thoroughly researched articles on obscure topics like the joys of semi-colons, not this open marriage trash.

    • Open relationships are for people who want them, and will work for them, not for everyone to shoe horn themselves into because it’s chic. they take a lot of work and open communication.
      1. Poly doesn’t “get rid of” all your problem, it just trades for its own set of unique issues. You find the dynamic up that’s fits you best
      2. Poly Scheduling apps are a thing, many of us use them. Love may be infinite, but time isn’t. We all know that.
      3. There a numerous ways to be open/poly/non-monogamous, every dynamic is different. Most of us like the extra emotional support and widened social network.

      Why do I come to this site? Married cheaters often come to open poly gatherings looking for easy affair partners. Most of us won’t engage with cheating, so cheaters lie to us as well. This site helps me recognize cheater behavior and how to handle them, and possibly how to break the news to their wives if need be. There was a situation last year where a man came to a party with a date. Turns out he had a wife and six kids. His wife was not his date. The date was rightly furious and exposed him. He’s blackilisted from the community now.

      …Also, I like Chump Lady’s no nonsense way of putting things and she’s actually extremely understanding to the open/ poly community.

        • I’m not sure, I didn’t know the cheater, the date or his wife. I live in a different country and the conduct wasn’t in my mother tongue, but that’s part of following this blog now. Knowing how to deal with it if/when it comes up again.

          I have a strong feeling the date told his wife, but I can check it again with my partner, he would remember better than I do as it was in his native tongue.

          • By the way: this was one of the experiences that initially got me interested in reading Chump Lady. I was bridged over from Captain Awkward and how Chump Lady disagreed with CA recommending that an LW NOT inform a wife that her husband was cheating. I’ve seen “monogamous” spouses try to cheat with poly or BDSM oriented people twice now. Why not automatically inform? If you read that CA article, there’s a lot of the same misguided thinking about “is it proper to insert myself in something so personal?” “Do I want to be responsible for ruining someones life” and of course there’s questioning the source altogether. Married cheaters lurk in poly and BDSM communities thinking we’re easy sluts and that we will be dismissed that way if we ever open our mouths. People lose custody of their kids for pursuing alternative lifestyles. Cheating doesn’t automatically lose you custody of your kids, having multiple boyfriends might, and being BDSM can lose you your job AND the right to see your kids. We can tell a spouse and they can out us.

            • Thanks Poly. Your input is very appreciated here. I know the poly community is all about honesty and that it is quite a difficult choice in many ways. There are so many misunderstandings about it, and predators out there trying to take advantage of people who are just trying to live life the way they feel happiest and most comfortable.

              I like your thoughts about CN being a good place to hone your radar about cheaters. Wishing you well.

        • An app for your phone for example. Usually scheduling software or a dating app like OkCupid. Scheduling software, I imagine, is not dissimilar to the scheduling software people use when handling custody arrangements, but now add 3, 4, or 5 people to it. People use Google scheduling as well.

  • Every couple I know who tried the open marriage thing is now divorced. Typical New York Times liberal rag b.s.. I’m sure Huffington will run the article next. Smh.

    • “Every couple I know who tried the open marriage thing is now divorced.”

      Exactly. It’s one of those things that sounds good (to some) in theory, but doesn’t work in practice. Every story I’ve heard about open marriage ends the same way (in heartbreak).

    • Awake: The one couple I knew who tried the open marriage thing was tragic. It was one of their best friends, she preferred him over the husband and chaos ensued. During the divorce proceedings, the husband took his life, leaving 2 kids behind. Horrible. This was over 20 years ago, I often wonder how those two innocent kids turned out.

  • (I posted this in the forums last week when the topic came up — apologies for my repetitiveness to those who’ve already read it )

    More triggers in the NYT article than I’d find in a Glock factory.

    I guarantee you, KK (who proposed the open marriage with the words “You’re my best friend in the world, and I would never want to jeopardize what we’ve built together…”) has clipped or bookmarked this article and will wave it proudly as Exhibits A through Z as to why UXworld was controlling, the marriage was unsavable, and how lucky she is to have found a fellow sexual sophisticate who allows her to be “the person I was always meant to be.” (#alwaysmeanttobeacunt)

    This is when the documentation I compiled is so important — it serves as a reminder of the true reality of what I was dealing with.

    The following bears repeating — if there is full honesty, transparency and commitment “preserving the primary relationship” at all costs, infidelity in and of itself is not cheating. As CL (and the auther) note, it’s when one person decides to change the rules to their own benefit in order to gain a relationship advantage that the situation delves into narcissism, entitlement, and every other fuckwit trait we all have to deal with.

    If “Elizabeth” or any of the others profiled in the story had confessed to falsely telling a secret affair partner that his/her spouse was physically abusing them, would the NYT even be running an “Is Open Marriage Happier?” series?

    • For those who don’t know, KK actually did that — and the secret affair partner in question boasted about carrying a gun with him at all times. That’s how sick this shit can get.

    • And my response to that post (much like UXWorld’s above).

      The article itself contains some damning evidence against open marriages, but you have to look for them. In the article, Daniel and Elizabeth have an open marriage. Joseph is one of Elisabeth’s alternate partners, but Joseph’s wife isn’t clued in on the whole open marriage thing.

      “neither Elizabeth, Daniel, or Joseph thought Joseph’s spouse deserving of being given the truth.” Well, maybe those three should ask Joseph’s spouse how she feels about that. Or maybe Joseph should end the marriage and be with someone who is deserving of that ‘truth’. Hypocrites, all of them. Open and honest if you’re in our special club, otherwise you’re not important.

      Hugs. Strength. Peace.

      • Yes, yes, yes. It actually made my blood boil quite a bit, because I am pretty poly-friendly, but this is gross misrepresentation of what it actually is. The example you cite isn’t “progressive” or “poly” or “open” at all – it is cheating. Disgusting.

        • Open relationships are for people who want them, and will work for them, not for everyone to shoe horn themselves into because it’s chic. they take a lot of work and open communication.
          1. Poly doesn’t “get rid of” all your problem, it just trades for its own set of unique issues. You find the dynamic up that’s fits you best
          2. Poly Scheduling apps are a thing, many of us use them. Love may be infinite, but time isn’t. We all know that.
          3. There a numerous ways to be open/poly/non-monogamous, every dynamic is different. Most of us like the extra emotional support and widened social network.

          Why do I come to this site? Married cheaters often come to open poly gatherings looking for easy affair partners. Most of us won’t engage with cheating, so cheaters lie to us as well. This site helps me recognize cheater behavior and how to handle them, and possibly how to break the news to their wives if need be. There was a situation last year where a man came to a party with a date. Turns out he had a wife and six kids. His wife was not his date. The date was rightly furious and exposed him. He’s blackilisted from the community now.

          …Also, I like Chump Lady’s no nonsense way of putting things and she’s actually extremely understanding to the open/ poly community.

          • Thank you Poly, Sam lmm,
            You have described what healthy poly and open relationships are.

            Although it’s a choice I could not make, I very much appreciate your candid discussion about these kinds of relationships.

            So many of us went into exclusive relationships to find it was ‘open’ the entire time or were given an ultimatum for it to open. It all comes back to the Character of the people in the relationships-no different than monogamous.

            Cheaters cheat and liars lie.

      • Damn. That is JEDI-LEVEL passive voice! “neither Elizabeth, Daniel, or Joseph thought Joseph’s spouse deserving of being given the truth.”

        “deserving of being given the truth”–way to softpedal.

        My edit would be, “Elizabeth, Daniel and Joseph agreed to deceive Joseph’s spouse.”

        Or as I say to students, “Make sure your sentence makes clear who is doing what to whom.”

      • Thanks. I started the forum post and that was my key objection to the NYT article as well. The three “open” marriage participants colluding in deceiving the unknowing wife. Nice. “Sophisticated,” “open”. B.S.
        I will say that the comments section on the article, though now closed, contains a refreshing number of comments condemning the deception and hypocrisy.

  • After I left my Cheater X, I started seeing a very nice girl. Unfortuantely my picker wasn’t fixed and boundaries poor and it took me a little while to work out she had BPD. Felt sorry for her, but wasn’t prepared to stick with someone who wouldn’t take responsibility for her actions.

    One of the many fucked up things she tried to guide me towards was an “open” relationship (spoiler alert…. she really liked the First Couple in House of Cards). But her idea of open involved a shit load of lying on her part and basically was her doing whatever she wanted, whilst calling on Chumpy me whenever she needed something. She still does (without the romance) – thank the Lord for “BIFF”.

    I am embarrassed I even gave this more than the 2 mins I heard her out…..

    But cutting to my point – I think it noteworthy that this the dream setup for someone with BPD…. it’s completely one sided for the advocate of the idea, but they don’t really understand the other side of it (which is you get to shag people as well and won’t be available to them on tap). Yep – a dysfunctional person thinks this is a great idea!!! How could it possibly go wrong?

    Could never do it (but don’t judge those who do) as it is the complete opposite of what I would want from a real life partner.

    • I have always tried to be open minded about many things … but I admit that I DO judge on this one. What kind of person can know their beloved is being intimate with another and not be jealous, not care, not be undone? I will never understand it and I think it says something about a person to be capable of this choice.

      • I agree – but I also think there are lots of shallow people out there who put their own need for sparkles ahead of their need to be monogamous. If two people are ok with that, then good luck to them.

        What would be better is if they then just left the rest of us alone to our “boring” monogamy. Perfect world?

        • as long as they find each other and leave those of us with romantic integrity out of the equation. But no….. they like a sturdy old chump to fall back on.

          • I think that’s a whole other issue!!

            How many people out there in CN were asked to do an Open marriage AFTER they caught their cheater? Or another view of this sort of fuckedupedness…. how many people were given grief about non-existent affairs/infidelity whilst their cheater was having an affair? One rule for Chumps, a whole different rule book for the cheater….

            • My STBX asked to have an open marriage after D-Day. When I asked her to define “open marriage,” she told me that it means that she could go out and have sex with other men while I stay home and watch the kids and then she would come home to tell me all about it. She went on to say that I would not be allowed to date other women because it is the “man’s place” to pay for dates and that we did not have it in our family budget for me to take other women out on dates.

              • Wow, that’s some really fancy footwork there to justify a half-open marriage.

                I hope in the divorce settlement, she counts half of the money spent on dates for her by other men as income, which means that it should reduce any alimony you owe her.

                More importantly, I hope you divorce her ass hard and fast.

                Hugs. Strength. Peace.

              • That is an absolute riot! I hope you laughed in her face before you walked out the door.

            • Her first words were ILYBINILWY. Then her second was a question as to if I’d like an open marriage. I didn’t even know what that was. They all use the same cheater handbook.

            • Asking for an open relationship was how I knew my Husband #2 was cheating or thinking about cheating. Because I had an open relationship prior to meeting him, we had talked about long before we ever got married, and he was vehemently opposed to the whole thing. He said many of the same things that have been said on this thread today.

              “That’s not love.”
              “That’s not a real relationship.”
              “That is fucked up.”

              Cue seven years (and one child) later, when I was pregnant with our second child, and he suddenly thought we should talk about it. He wasn’t pursuing the OW at the time, but he had made the internal decision to do so. I didn’t know any of this in those moments, but I knew – I mean I KNEW – there was someone else he was interested in. It wasn’t my first rodeo. I asked him point-blank who it was, and he acted flabbergasted that I would think there was someone else.

              Cue me beginning Operation Catch-A-Douchebag within half-hour of that conversation. The rest is history. I gave him myriad opportunities to come clean over the next month (the whole time being one step ahead of him and already knowing the answers to the questions I was asking), and instead watched him lie to my face over and over.

              What they say is true – if you are being asked to have an open relationship, you are already in one.

              • It’s not an Open Relationship unless you’re both “open”. If only one of you know about it, it’s cheating.

                And yep- asking them stuff you already know the answer to and watching them lie is heat stopping stuff. Just think of all the other times they gave you that “tell” and you missed it.

              • Operation Catch-A-Douchebag was easy, actually. Some computer knowledge, some smart phone app knowledge, a bit of luck, ZERO guilt about snooping and the fact that Cheater isn’t very savvy about technology.

                First order of business was getting into his work e-mail. He was not aware that any e-mail on Microsoft Exchange is typically available via the web remotely. It was easy-peasy to navigate to his e-mail account on the web and guess his password. That was done in the time it took him to take a shower. That provided me with 98% of what I needed, because I was watching them e-mail each other at work in real time as he started “grooming” her to go out with him and give him a chance.

                I also installed spy software on his phone the following week. Expensive as hell. Phones were in my name, so it was legal. Then I had text messages, too. They did not call each other, EVER, because he knew I would see that in call logs. He thought texting was safe, and it would have been, but for the spy software.

                Turned on his Location History in Google (Android phone), and checked it compulsively.

                Then it was legwork. He lied his head off to her, too, and it took him a couple of weeks before she agreed to see him outside of work. I knew all this, naturally, so I showed up. I did not confront. I sat in the parking lot and took pictures of them. I snuck in to one restaurant a week later unnoticed and took further pictures of them dining together. That was the night before I confronted. I was back in my borrowed car (I should be a PI, lol) in the parking lot when they came out and I witnessed their first kiss. That is when I knew it had gone on long enough and I was ready to confront. He came home that night and I let him lie about his whereabouts.

                The following evening, he made some excuse to go out again, and made a beeline to meet her at a bar. I drive faster than him, and he stopped at a gas station, so I beat him there. Parked across the street and waited until he showed up. Went right in, pregnant as can be, and confronted them both. She dumped him then and there.

          • Yup. Finding a chump to fall back on is well, the way to make an open marriage work, isn’t it?

          • Cheaters come lurking about in poly/non-monogamous communities and lie to us as well. Many of us wouldn’t engage with a cheater, so they “cheat” on us too. The best litmus test is if I can ask to speak with the spouse: if they reply that they are in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement I always assume it’s cheating. But cheaters can lie and gaslight people trying to practice non-monogamy as ethically as possible.

        • I do get judge-y over poly relationships too, even though Polytastic seems like a nice, decent person. I’m glad to read they don’t like cheaters as well. If only we could tell the world that monogamy isn’t boring and all poly people aren’t predators. Even tho…poly scheduling apps::::smirk:::::21st century penis wrangling
          Also, I’ve been reading this column for a couple years and I think there are more men commenting. I think it’s more accepted in society for men to reach out about emotional issues… which I love! Humans win!

          • I don’t think monogamy is boring. I’ve been in monogamous relationships before, I didn’t choose poly because I have “a wandering eye.”

            Most of my friends are married, I happily attended their weddings. Some polycules in my social circle include married couples and families with kids, though most of us are child free so far. We’re normal people, with jobs and families, who value honesty and commitment (yes there’s big time commitment). We have to work through multiple commitments, so it’s not like we don’t understand, respect, or value someone else’s monogamous commitment.

      • I consider myself VERY open-minded, especially about sex. But I have to agree. How would a person feel if their partner was sitting at the dining room table with a shit-eating grin on their face, remembering some little cirque du soleil shit that happened at Suzy’s mom’s house earlier that day?

        Here’s the thing: XH was crap in the sack, and I’m quite sure if we’d had an open marriage, I would have easily found someone who did a better job of ringing that bell, so to speak. So how could *I* not compare? How could *I* not bring that home to my (open) marriage to XH? What would I think: Well, he’s a crap lover but he does a fantastic job with the petunias in the front yard so I guess we’ll stay together?

        I don’t know. Open marriage just doesn’t make sense to me. As CL says, pick-me dancing 24/7.

        • Well after reading this NYT article, I would expect you be suspicious of the lifestyle. They featured cheaters and people who held their relationships hostage and asked “are open marriages happier?” The answer you are supposed to come to is “no theyre terrible!!”

          Nobody is interested in poly dating apps and scheduling software, the long stretches of time where you don’t have multiple partners, all the conversations about boundaries and feelings. The numerous types of non-monogamy and how not all intimate relationships need to have sex involved. This helps where one partner is asexual and another isn’t. There’s a joke in the poly community that open relationship are having sex with multiple partners, while polyamory is just talking about it all the time.

          You don’t need to want or understand this lifestyle, just don’t take this article as gospel on how it’s done.

      • AMEN Dixie Chump! I have NEVER been able to wrap my head around this either and I’ve thought about it a lot. I could just never do it. There’s so much that goes into that – the way I was raised, my own thoughts that I’ve formed through a lot of experience. That’s just me.

  • I got my NYT yesterday and was hoping you would address this. The time issue really bothered me, too.
    How can anyone find the time to maintain two relationships and also care for parents, children, friends, work, themselves, etc.? It’s ridiculous.

    • I agree. My guess is in most open marriages, the power imbalance dynamic is still in play, just like with infidelity. The one with more power has more “open” opportunities (and probably downplays them and breaks any rules established) and does less around the house. The one with less power performs far more domestic duties and has far fewer “open” escapades.

      My guess is the one who first suggested the open path is the one with more power, and possesses higher skills of manipulation and emotional control.

      I’m skeptical of these arrangements.

      I also have friends who stayed married for the sake of their kids, are not romantically engaged and are free to see other people, and even in this case, the one who did not suggest this arrangement (but agreed to it) does all of the money earning and about 70% of the parenting.

      • This article features cheaters and people who held their marriages hostage. Whatever your opinions on open marriages/non-monogamy, don’t take this article as gospel on how things are done or how people strive to behave in open relationships. There are other sources, literature, and forums that explain the inner thinking and conduct so much better than this.

        • Good point Polytastic,

          I don’t have any real data but I’m just guessing that many marriages that are “open” really are not, but instead have the cheater/chump dynamic at their core. But yeah, I’m not trying to comment on or be skeptical of poly or open marriages that really are on the up and up with respect to honesty and following any rules established with integrity.

          • The thing is: being poly doesn’t make me any less immune to being lied to or abused as anyone else here.

            You know how cheaters are always pulling the “open marriage card” or “poly lifestyle” card to justify and hide their cheating? Well they bring it to real poly communities as well and deceive poly people trying to start relationships in good faith.

            We get chumped too, it sucks for us as well.

            • sucks being lied too, at the same time, how much does it really sting if you are spreading your emotional vulnerability over 2-3 people. Asking to understand. Maybe its not that vulnerable and its about sex, so one sex dude is a loser: “bye to him, now let’s check the app, ah yes Sex Weekend with Darren, yay!” How high are the stakes, really, for you. Maybe duped spouse blames you and comes after you?
              Yeah, I think swinging is more appropriate term, IMHO. Open marriage tries to give it emotional weight. Like saying someone is a sugar baby vs prostitute. Swing around with your spouse? Sure why not- but those people are sex toys no matter how “Eat Pray Love” you try to spin it. I have friends I love and help without fucking involved. Do you keep the partners until age 75….I’m guessing nah, that’s too many tubes of aspercreme in the bathroom cabinet.

              but anyway, what do i know. 😉

              • One of the tenets of the poly community as I understand it (and Poly-tastic could speak more intelligently about this than I can, I’m sure) is that there is no “spreading your emotional vulnerability out,” as though it is a finite resource. Instead, poly-friendly theories assert that emotions like love and vulnerability are an infinite resource. Sort of like how you don’t start loving members of your family or close friends in your friendship circle less just because you add more members. That each person and addition is unique and special in their own way, and our capacity for love grows, rather than gets spread thin.

              • You’re both actually kind of right. LMM is right about the theory, you’re not off about the practice with some people. The answer is: it depends on the relationship. Without getting heavy into poly theory (not the right place) some relationships are more committed…and more important to me than others. I have a primary partner, who I call my life partner, who I live with, who I’ve made a life with, who I love more than there are words in the English language. If this relationship breaks up, for whatever reason, I will be devastated, but you’re also right having more than one partner to support you can give you a soft place to fall in some ways. Does having a less devastating break up mean I had a less loving or less ‘real’ relationship? Does suffering at the end of a relationship correlate to how much I loved the person?

                I have one relationship that was primarily sexual, but has recently cooled off into a sexless friendship. I miss the loss of her in this way, but I’m really happy to connect to her in a different way. I have one current partner who started as a good friend and I would feel the loss of him if the relationship were cut off. I use passive voice here because I could cut it off, he could cut it off, his wife could cut it off, or my partner could cut it off (everyone knows everything).

                People aren’t toys, they don’t exist to just please me (that’s kind of mutually using each other in my opinion) and personally I think having sex WITHOUT any emotions involved is bizarre and unnatural… And I personally can’t enjoy sex with someone I don’t like or care about. Sounds pretty monogamous right? But I can do it with more than one at a time and that’s what put me firmly into poly territory, the emotions.

                If somebody wants casual, no strings attached sex okay have fun, be safe, and don’t be a dick to people…. But I’m not wired that way.

                I would be happy to expand into a poly family and grow old with a poly household. I’m not afraid of all the tubes of aspercream in the cabinet or helping someone read their medication bottles or shared parenting if it came to that. Six Feet Under put it best when they said “love is when you get old and shit yourself in the movie theater and their the one to help you clean it up” (I’m not romantic). Realistically, it’s hard to do this with one person, let alone with 3 or 4 who ALL want the same thing and like each other enough.

                I hope that answers the question.

  • I got a bit riled at the Times, myself. It was a giant click bait article from their magazine.

    –one of the wives actually cheated and then forced her spouse into an open marriage, and her “boyfriend” is still cheating on his unknowing wife. That’s not open marriage; its infidelity. And I (and Free Vix as the “boyfriend’s” unknowing wife) endured pretty much the same exact situation…except unlike Daniel, I didn’t eventually agree to the open marriage.

    –we didn’t evolve to do plenty of things that go against our biological nature (such as use birth control). So, do these enlightened swingers forego ALL behaviors that we didn’t evolve to do? Or just the convenient, pleasurable one? I believe that CL has made that point here before.

    –as CL notes, only the pleasure is shared. The actual responsibility of a marriage (raising kids, in-laws, disease and death, finances) are almost never shared. They should change the term from “open marriage” to “open sex, but with almost all other responsibilities unshared.”

    I used to think I was more liberal and open to others doing this if it didn’t harm anyone. But as the negative externalities are borne by society as a whole, and not just the swinging 3 or 4, I’m less sure after reading this article. The people didn’t sound like they’d actually thought it out, other than to justify their behavior.

    • Really great response. As long as all parties are aware, go ahead and ‘open’ your marriage. Your point REALLY clarifies this arrangement because as you said, none of the unsexy responsibilities of the marriages are shared. Responsibilities like mowing the yard, making and taking kids to doctors appointments, filing taxes, taking out the trash, cleaning the house, etc..

      So…… isn’t this really just Swinging? Which sounds a lot less sophisticated than Open Marriage. You are knowingly adding strangers into a sex circle. All in the open, of course. No hiding. Swinging doesn’t sound as enlightened. It sounds like rounds of antibiotics and copious amounts of Purel. I see no difference.

      • And if anyone remembers tales of swinging in the 70s, remember there was always that last set of keys no one wanted to end up with. How does that person feel, then? It’s just sad and desperate, IMO.

        • Like the last kid,the uncoordinated one, picked for the kickball team…Makes me ill thinking about monsters that gleefully wreak havoc in the lives of theirs partners and children because they are SELFISH !

        • Totally! It’sounds kind of a case of “I’m not against it per se, but it’s probably not for me.” In other words, maybe I’m just a bit of a hypocrite?

          The idea seems fine. But the logistics and boundaries are so much harder to define, and then keep to.

          I knew my ex’s sexual history. I knew he had sexual partners when we broke up for a while whilst I travelled overseas. I know some of these women. It was never weird for me. I don’t really have a sexual history, as I’ve only been with him sexually. At first, immediately after D-day, I thought I could treat the cheating (with an old friend of mine) like those cases. When I was away. There was no cheating or lying then. I knew he was living a sexually active single life. I wasn’t. Not out of loyalty, it just kinda never happened. I think it is a part of who I am. I prefer to love the person I sleep with. Not because of any moral judgements. Have fun, have mutually exciting sex with people you know well, or people you’ve just met. Go for it. Enjoy life!

          I couldn’t put the cheating in the same box as the sex he had with women when we were not together. Funny that. Lying and endangering my health is the bottom line. Not sex.

          And that is the thin line that is difficult to walk in open relationships. If those damned feelings get out of control, and then you ‘have to’ start lying.

          • I don’t understand why most people are being judgmental here, especially to the person who commented about being pro-open (Sam). If a couple enters a relationship with an open understanding of what they want, what business is it of ours? You can call it cheating, dishonest, whatever, but it’s between them. We’re not part of that picture. You can project all you want about your emotions or compare your experience as being cheated upon but that’s not the case with them. They are having a consensual agreement of what they want.

            The only problem I have with the BYT article is the mentioning of “love is not finite”. Saying that, to me, suggests that we monogamers (I made that up!) are limited in our loving? Well, I love my mom, my dad, my best friend, my sister. Aren’t I on the right track?

            • // , I do not think they judge the prima facie *idea* of an “Open Marriage”, but rather the ease with which a common positive regard toward the practice enables a certain type of abuse, if one person involved happens to be an abuser or chump. If you want to understand how someone may justly criticize a behavior that is not itself immoral, merely for the situations it is historically most likely to produce, I suggest looking into the term “Moral Hazard” in ethics, to which most of these criticisms of the swinger lifestyle implicitly point.

              Also, please consider books on the behavioralism of sexual markets, au la “Rational Male” and Rudder’s OKCupid Data Analysis Book “Dataclysm”.

              Both books, and behavioralism in general, follow Chump Lady’s guideline to watch what people do, not what they say.

            • You’re 100% on the right track. “Love is not finite” is not meant to suggest that monogamists are emotionally limited, it’s to portray that loving people is only ever perceived and treated as finite when it comes to romantic relationships. We never say “I have only a certain amount of friendship that I can distribute across X number of people.” And to suggest that love is finite with children… Dear Lord heaven forbid. We just expand the idea one step farther into romance and sex.

              Monogamy is an active choice and your preference, and that’s totally legitimate. My choice to be poly isn’t supposed to be an insult to or de legitimize your choice to be monogamous.

              • Actually, there is evidence or a study, forget the details that a person can only sustain a certain number of close relationships with people across all sources. Can’t remember the number, maybe 9 to 15. This includes friends, families, romantic partners, everyone. At some point, all relationships you are involved with will start to suffer. Add a job to that, and household and child care duties, and you are really stretching yourself thin, at least speaking for myself. For example, I have one child, and a couple of close friends. Several siblings, and a few elderly relatives in the mix. This is really all I can, or want to handle. If I were like the Duggar family and had 20 children, would my relationship with each child be the same as it is with my one? That would be difficult, just based on the logistics. And I’m not saying one child or many is better or worse, just different. That’s one reason I’m glad I don’t have too many relationships, it’s a conscious decision.

    • I’m open to the idea (for other people), as long as nobody gets hurt. But people suck and do shitty things to one another and someone always gets hurt. It’s the nature of the game.

    • Excellent points.

      How many “open” marriages were preceded by infidelity? To me, if a marriage is impacted by infidelity, then you lose your privilege to propose or engage in an open marriage since trust is already too damaged.

      And yes, if one spouse has “open” relations with a partner who is cheating on their own husband or wife, then that is direct participation in infidelity making that “open” spouse a cheater as well as bringing great destruction into another person’s life.

    • And the boyfriend’s wife, who did nothing but make him miserable, was portrayed as not deserving to know the truth because she was too much of a pleasureless kill-joy who would never agree to sacrifice her dignity for her husband’s jollies. (The nerve!) What we chumps know is that while she was painted as the villain, she probably works hard, loves her husband, has good days and bad like anyone, and has probably tied herself in knots trying to make her jackass of a cheating husband pay a fraction of the attention to her that he lavishes on Mrs. Zen Yoga (barf).

      As for this persistent crap that monogamy isn’t in our nature, that it goes against biology, I call bullshit. Monogamy is highly natural to me. It’s natural to a LOT of people. I think polyamory is also perfectly natural…for some. But not for everyone. The first order of business for everyone should be integrity, transparency, and character. If you do that right, the rest will work itself out no matter how one chooses to partner (or not).

      I’m glad you didn’t give in to the bargaining stages of grief and spackle over your wife’s affair like “Daniel” did in this story. He struck me as desperate, not creative. I don’t for a minute believe they’ll come through this in the end, because it was launched from a place of coercion and inequality. As ol’ Babs said…just say no.

      • Yeah it’s super unfair on the unsuspecting wife because you KNOW he never said “hey wife. I need excitement. Let’s have an honest conversation about our marriage and possibly open marriage or whatever trendy thing is going on in the “liberated” world.”

        In my situation our “honest conversation” before he went out whore fucking was “I want more sex.” He conveniently forgot to add “If you don’t do what I’m saying I’ll replace you with the whoremat.” And believe me I tried! I tried to give him more sex. I did what he told me he wanted. But, of course, goal post moved and it wasn’t enough.

        We all know she’s not a frigid bitch and terrible wife. She’s all of us. And even if she WAS the worst wife EVER, the Hitler, Chairman Mao and lady Satan combined into one ultra awful wife, he has the right to divorce her and move onto greener pastures not to “suffer” and be “tortured” in his “awful marriage” behind her back. If you asked her I bet she’s pretty happy and doesn’t realize how “awful” her marriage actually is ??

        And the “we weren’t made for monogamy” is a pathetic argument. Humans are animals. We were made for all the things animals were made for. Not smart phone usage or creating and consuming media or altruism. All the things we enjoy in modern life we’ve had to overcome our baser natures to enjoy. If we only did what we were designed for it would be nothing but survival. Society has nothing to do with a natural behavior but everyone agreeing to unnatural behaviors we all take part in for the greater good. But the greater good is always the cheater’s crotch and fuck everyone else.

  • Cheating aside, the problem with open marriages for me is that most likely one of the two changed the rules AFTER marriage. It seems to me that the person who agrees to the open marriage may also be doing so to ‘save’ their wonderful marriage….or so they think!

    But if open marriage was discussed BEFORE marriage and agreed upon, then all good.

    It all sucks to me.

    • Yeah, I would not be happy in a polyamorous arrangement. But, if that’s the ground rules you lay down at the beginning, before there’s a third person in the picture, and everyone involved in the diagram is informed and on board (including the third person’s partner,) well, it’s not for me to judge. I can think it’s not a very good idea (and in fact I do think that), but adults with a full grasp of the facts can make their own decisions.

      This case in the NYT is not that, though. The marriage “became” open after someone cheated, and the third guy has a wife who doesn’t know he’s in an arrangement with someone else. That’s fucked up, and that I will condemn. That hurts someone who’s not fully informed. Fuck that.

    • I agree with your statement. I know a poly couple who make their world work, and work well. But they decided this was their life before they got married they established rules and their friends and partners know the score. Its a lot of work and a lot of honesty. I don’t think its for everyone but I also don’t think its impossible. I just think it would be reallllllly hard to also be good at being a grown up. I imagine I would never be ok being the side piece and yet … My friend who is dating the male of the duo says she loves that she gets a lot of the fun. There is talking etc but none of the mundane and yet on the other hand… Sometimes my favorite part of life was hip bumping while we did the dishes. So mundane can be lovely. I don’t think its fair to blame the lifestyle. I think a lot of assholes use it as their seguay or justification or last ditch at trying to stay married even though they are cheating assholes, not poly. There’s a ton of people out there claiming to be amazing monogamists and shocker they are lying too. .. If its not for you thats fine. But keep the spite for the characters in your story because pushing it onto general groups without understanding is often unfair. I mean….. Tons of people think chumps are all fat housewives who stopped putting out and degraded their spouses and never put thought into how their spouse felt. And thats not fair either. To any of us. We rail about it. Just… Be careful is all.

      • polyamory can be a family, rather than how it’s portrayed here. I’ve met people who did this successfully, at least up till I last saw them. It was actually a good family unit with shared responsibilities. Two men/two women with kids sharing the raising of, and taking care of the family. Sharing the sex went along with it. I agree it’s not so great to paint anyone polyamory as bad regardless of the awful NYT articles.

        • I’ve known some people in poly relationships. One relationship was as dysfunctional as it gets, another relationship lasted for several years until one of the partners got hooked on pills and chose the addiction lifestyle over accepting help, and the last two relationships are long term stable family units.

          The stable ones aren’t in your face about being poly. They’re putting their energy into being a family and fly under the radar. The one where a partner got hooked on pills was a bad deal, but before that they were all really committed to being there for each other.

          My opinion is that people who are more interested in being a family that happens to be poly are more stable than people who are more interested in being part of the poly lifestyle.

          If you’re doing each other’s laundry, taking care of each other when they’re sick, and cooking meals together, you’re probably in it for more than the opportunity to have multiple sex partners.

  • “I believe in being cherished.” Wow, CL. That hit me straight in the chest. Those were my exact words to him in counseling last year when this whole thing blew up…

    • CL’s follow-up also hit home though: “And isn’t that really what everyone wants?”

      … because immediately I thought, No. That’s not what everyone wants. XH doesn’t want that. “Cherish” isn’t in his vocabulary. “Adored,” maybe. “Worshipped.” “Sacrificed to,” perhaps. But what “cherish” really means? No. I don’t think narcs actually want to be cherished.

  • If the New York Times is pro open marriage then CL you’re not really that hip. The monogamy ship has sailed and anyone too busy watering plants, working and raising kids and caring for aging parents is last century.

    Might as well admit CL, you’re not sexually advanced in these modern times. You’re not using time management properly for getting extra on the side. Geeez….the New York Times staff of writers and editors are banging each other and still run articles, if they can do it so can you.

    Don’t ya know that only lazy people believe in monogamy.

  • People who crave being loved by multiple partners are very empty inside and believe they can fill that void with more adoration. But the true joy is just as much in the giving of love and devotion … and again, people who are empty inside have no love to give. So they are destined to be miserable in any type of romantic arrangement … open or closed. A spouse that states (or hints around strongly) that they want an open marriage have just revealed that inner void … time to get away from the disorder as quickly as you can while providing for your kids emotional health.

    • Yah, Dixie Chump, it’s all about the inner void. And yah, a marriage partner cannot be all things to a spouse. That’s why we all need such relationships and roles as being sons / daughters; mothers / fathers; brothers / sisters. We need friends, a faith community. We need a vocation, job or career. We need a creative expression. Take care of these things, and your chores, and see if you’re not then fulfilled and don’t even want some of these other distractions.

      • Queen Mother, my cheater would have added “Yes, that”s why we need all these other relationships like mother, father, brother, sister, colleague, friend, lover, casual sex partner, passionate sex partner, business trip fling, love of your life partner, wife and husband.”

      • Geez when my hub (after throwing the live grenade of his cheating) gave me the obligatory polyamory spiel about how renegotiating our marriage contract to Monogamish would be the bees knees for us (read HIM) because the 26 year long love he had for me was separate from the LOVE he felt for his 2week affair slunt, I told him a better solution to his inner void and boredom and midlife angst would be to get a hobby or volunteer with me to help those less fortunate or maybe even build a playhouse for our soon to be born grandchildren, not mess up all of our lives with bringing third parties into our marriage. Choices have consequences, I said, and he ran away. Literally. And is still gone a year later, delaying the divorce and angry at me for saying no to his polyamory fantasy. “You’d like her! She likes dogs, too!”

    • It’s funny that AmEX is fiercely against open marriages and will judge the f* out of anyone who suggests the idea (consensual, of course). That didn’t stop him from pursuing coworkers’ attention all the while we lived together, because…oh no, wait, those were NOT affairs! (that’s right, it was CAKE).

      So at least in my mind someone who will try to swing their penchant for multiple partners in the direction of an open marriage seems to have a bit more self-awareness than that (granted, still way not enough!).

  • Truer words were never spoken: If your spouse brings up the topic and asks what you think of an Open Marriage, you are already in an open marriage — you just didn’t know it.

    That’s exactly how I discovered that Big Chief Dumb Fuck had hooked up with both the Doormat neighbor and the Twatwaffle cantor from church.

    Open marriage isn’t a “marriage” of any kind unless both parties freely consent and commit to the concept. If it’s unilateral, that’s called CHEATING.

  • I just don’t get the whole open relationship thing. Why bother? And like CL said. I have plenty of stuff to fill my time. Sex is OK, but it’s not really anything I want to devote my life to chasing.

  • An elderly woman who was parked next to me at Wal-Mart couldn’t get her car started as I got out of my pickup. I had her raise the hood and had her car running in 5 minutes. (I am a mechanic.) She tried to pay me, but I refused and told her to have a good day. She stated that Walter always took care of her car and she has sure been at a loss since he passed away 2 years ago, but he told her on his death bed that he would still look after her and send help when she needed it. Her eyes and smile lit up while talking about how he cherished her for 57 wonderful years.

    How can you possibly treasure memories like that with an open marriage?

    • What a sweet story. My parents were married almost 50 years, until my dad’s death. I think my mother grieved herself to death after he was gone.

      I see relationships like that at church all the time. Husbands caring for sick wives, wives caring for sick husbands, etc. Try getting that from your fuckbuddy, it’s not happening. All you are is a crotch to them. When that goes bad, look out!

    • This is exactly the kind of marriage that I want. What a fantastic example SuperDuperChump!

    • I wish my cheater would have respected all I brought into her life and how much I cherished her. Is that too much to ask?

      dang – that one brought deep tears.

  • I hear about open marriages online, but I’ve never known anybody who has ever been in one. I have no idea how anyone would have the time for that either, but I suppose if you have 2 consenting people, then fine.

    It seems more often than not though that cheaters use concepts like open marriage to defend their shitty choices. An open marriage would make them happy, or complete them, or let them live free…..or whatever. But it’s never an open marriage scenario with a cheater.

    The problem is…….first, obviously you never consented to the open marriage because you never knew you were in one to begin with, and second………..even if you were to be with someone else, you know your cheater would absolutely explode. There’s nothing worse to a cheater than not having their spouse’s full attention and focus.

    You see, the “open marriage” as envisioned by the cheater has them out enjoying themselves while you are waiting at home fulfilling whatever role they have in mind for you (i.e., watch the kids, cook the dinners, pay the bills…and primarily just stay the hell out of the way of their other relationship). And you can’t focus on those things if you’re out having your own good time.

    • I have only ever encountered this with people in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, never in a marriage. In college I knew a boy who said he was in an open relationship with a girl he ‘loved” and then he tried to seduce me. Although I had had a crush on the guy for years, I said no because I did not want to be a sidepiece. A few weeks later they broke up when she decided she wanted to be in a monogamous relationship with somebody else. In this case, I think it was his idea and it backfired.

      In another case, they agreed to be open right from the get go, but never found other lovers and they ended up married and monogamous thereafter.

    • I knew someone at XH’s restaurant who was in an open marriage. Can you guess what happened? Yes, the husband found someone he liked better and divorced the wife, same as in a closed marriage. — What’s the point of marriage, then?

  • My buddy summed it up with regards to life management and marriage (exasperated tone), “One is ENOUGH”.

    • Definitely. That was one of my many reasons not to cheat. It might be great if I had two men always there for me when I needed them, but what if they both needed me at the same time? With my history, that is the way it would work out and I would just be exhausted trying to please two men. One is definitely enough.


    Funny you mention that! Of the few “successful” polyamorous couples that I know, one thing they constantly fight about it is who gets to go out on dates when, how late they stay out, if they can go on vacation with their boyfriend or girlfriend. They argued in front of me once and it sounded like teenage siblings fighting over the car. “You stayed out with your boyfriend till 4 AM on Tuesday; YOU stay home with the baby this weekend!” It was really pathetic.

    Now this is just my experience, but the people I know who are in open marriages or polyamorous always chasing the “high” of initial passion of a brand-new relationship. But maybe the reason why God or Nature made this phase of the relationship so brief is BECAUSE nothing would ever get done if we all were in a constant state of infatuation. Instead of building aqueducts, we would’ve been doodling hearts on the walls of caves all day. Instead of going to work and nurturing our children, we would stay in bed with our partners until noon.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • BINGO! +1! So nice to know someone else thought of this. Mature love just isn’t the infatuated, high-on-hormones, can’t stay focused state of mind. It was MEANT to be temporary. Anyone who is looking to maintain this is stuck in adolescence.

      • Sorry about the typo in my name… with my luck PuanoMom is something naughty in another language.

  • To be cherished. That is the key. That is the vow my husband failed to keep.

    STBX didn’t want divorce he wanted open marriage. To me this means I look after the house and kids while she gets the flowers, date nights and intimacy and if I am nice he might install the occasional household appliance for me. No thanks to that deal.

    He tried to make this sound good by telling me “you could go find new lovers too.” There are several problems with that. First of all, I did cherish him. That means that I spend the 22 years of our marriage not thinking of other men in a romantic way because that was reserved for him. After that many years it is going to take a while to get over that. It’s not like I can just flip a switch and start lusting after other men. And, as Chump Lady so eloquently described, how would I find the time? I would have to neglect all of the other things demanding my time and the husband isn’t goin to pick up the slack because he is too busy with Schmoopie. The kids would just end up being neglected by both parents. Besides, what is the point of even being married if it isn’t exclusive? I told STBX “no, I don’t want a marriage that is just on paper”. Alas, I am a slow learner. It took another couple of months before I got around to initiating the divorce because he wasn’t and I realized that if I didn’t I would end up in an open marriage be default.

    • This was my biggest complaint while my cheater-wife was off having her fun. Her nose would be buried in her phone laughing and enjoying her time with her fuckbuddies. Anytime me or the kids diverted her attention she would get short and nasty with us.

      • BNM, your simple example is the unchanging TRUTH.

        That simple example explains far far far more than all the words ever written by Esther Perel and Willard Harley and Michele Weiner-Davis combined.

  • I met my first husband when I was 18 years old, and we were together pretty much every minute after that. We began talking about an open relationship about a year after our relationship starting, the conversation beginning out of his idea that I was quite young and was bound to “make mistakes” (his words). It started simply enough: I love you and you love me, and a failure to adhere to monogamy doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, so let’s talk about it. He brought it up, but the conversations were quite mutual after that. After six months or so of negotiations and the establishing of boundaries, we went with it. We kept that open relationship going for the next decade plus, through engagement and marriage. Here is a shortened list of the rules, simply because that comes into play later in the story.

    1. Total transparency and honesty on all sides at all times, including to the 3rd party.
    2. If any person at any time becomes uncomfortable with the arrangement for any reason, the arrangement stops immediately, and the person who said “stop” does not need to explain nor defend their choice.
    3. No spending of marital monies on 3rd parties or in the pursuit of strange.
    4. No fucking people we both mutually know, as that could be potentially very awkward.
    5. No fucking people at work, because we are not idiots.

    There’s more, but there are some of the rules. To answer the question of “how do you find time?” I will just say we had no children, and outside relationships were not frequent nor long-standing for either of us. It was more of a “hey, if you have an opportunity to hook up with someone else and you want to, it’s cool.” We didn’t “date” outside our relationship. It wasn’t polyamory. There were no regular side pieces.

    Almost 13 years into our very happy relationship, he struck up an interest in a woman from work. We discussed it at length, and eventually I said I thought it was stupid (because WORK), but I trusted his judgment. After they had hooked up twice over the course of a couple of months, he let me know she was married WITH A CHILD, and her husband was unaware. He had failed at “transparency” for two months, and allowed me to believe she was single. I pulled out Rule #2 and said “absolutely no way. This stops now.” He stopped seeing her (other than work) right then.

    Two weeks later, he let me know he was struggling avoiding the temptation, and she was putting on a lot of pressure, as well. I gave him a week to change his mind and cut her off completely. He refused. I divorced him. Done.

    I remarried later, and actually thought I might have some issues myself with a traditionally monogamous relationship because of my history. I hadn’t had a monogamous relationship ever! Turns out, I wasn’t the one who struggled at all with this – go figure. Cheaterpants Dickhead, on the other hand, seemed to have a problem keeping his side of the monogamy bargain, and had a short (4 week) EA with a cute coworker, with all the gas-lighting, deceit and blame-shifting that goes along with such things. They never had sex, I was able to confirm this through CIA-level super-sleuthing, but he most certainly lied and lied and lied.

    I say this to point out something pretty obvious to chumps everywhere. What is the common thread here? Is it sex? Nope. My first husband had lots of outside sex without any issues whatsoever for a really long time, and my second husband didn’t have sex with anyone else at all.

    So what broke it both times? Deceit, my friends. Deceit, of course. Taking the agreed-upon rules of the relationship (whatever the rules might be) and deciding to unilaterally change them without my consent. In whatever form that takes, it is an act of aggressive disrespect and emotional abuse. End stop.

    Whatever your arrangement might be, one partner doesn’t get to decide it doesn’t apply to them. A healthy relationship cannot exist after that. So, I have a very “you do you” attitude to different types of non-traditional arrangements made between consenting adults, but I come down like the hammer of God if “doing you” includes denying your partner the right to make completely informed decisions about their life.

    • Little Mighty Me, yourvpoint about deceit and informed consent are bang on and so relevant to my experiencez

      • @ Awakeningdreamer – this is my tried and true belief to this very day. If I really stop and think about it, two adults rolling around in the hay for…what, 20 minutes if yer lucky…well, it is really more foolish than anything. What happens specifically with someone’s genitals is, frankly, not the thing, at least for me. But the deceit! That is a flat-out robbery. It robs me of my ability to be informed. It robs me of the ability to make the best decisions for myself. It is dehumanizing, and I don’t say that lightly.

        Ultimately, the deceit shows me unequivocally that you don’t respect me as a human being enough to allow me to be your equal partner. THAT is a deal-breaker. I will not and cannot be a second-class citizen in my relationship. Liars, GTFO.

        • I don’t think it is just the deceit but also the emotional attachment to others that is really the problem here. Things worked fine above until the husbands developed emotional attachments to others. This is why most of us are not ok with open marriage because we know that with sex comes the very real risk of emotional attachment to someone new followed by discard of the primary relationship. This is what usually causes open marriages to fail in the long run. It is hard to keep emotional and physical attachments separate.

          At one point STBX proudly declared “at least I never paid for sex”. I almost wish he had (aside from the increased risk of STDs). Then he could have dealt with his curiosity and been done with it. Instead he made himself vulnerable to emotional attachments outside of his marriage and that is what killed us in the end.

          • This is an excellent point. My first husband and I, when explaining our situation to other people (we were pretty open about it, and damn if there isn’t a HUGE amount of curiosity from other people) often used the phrase “playing with fire.” We were certainly aware that was the case. Sexual attachment can lead to emotional attachment quite easily. Even without sex, just the “pursuit” can lead to emotional attachment, because what do most people do when trying to get someone else in bed? Why, they get to know them at least a little bit first, right?

            Emotional entanglements were beyond my comfort zone, and that is why our relationship was never a poly relationship. It was much more rigid than that, with 90% monogamy interspersed with the occasional, short-lived foray into a casual hook-up outside of the primary relationship.

            • No emotional attachments was the unspoken rule your ex failed to follow. I guess that’s what either spouse can end the others involvement at any time without complaint was supposed to cover.

              • Oh, no, that was an explicit rule, it was certainly not unspoken – lol! No emotional entanglements. I did not list the rules comprehensively, just gave an overview of a few. I was uncomfortable with emotional entanglements. He was less so, and had always been. I did not ultimately divorce him because of emotional entanglement, however. I was legitimately scandalized that he had sex with a married woman twice and her husband didn’t know. It was seedy, in my opinion, and grossly unfair to her husband. He knew I would think that, so he elected to “neglect” to mention she was married. The lying is what I couldn’t stand. Lying, by omission or commission, is just unacceptable.

    • LMM — as perhaps one of the few other members this unfortunate “wtf did we agree to?” club, I’m with you 1000% on your comments. It IS IS IS an act of aggressive disrespect and emotional abuse. TO watch them justify it, blameshift back to us, etc. makes it all that much more evil. You sound like the prize of all prizes.

      • @ UXworld – I know, right? I mean, not to toot my ow horn, but JEEZ. Guy had a loving, committed, progressive-thinking wife without issues with insecurity or jealousy, who stood by him through thick and thin, AND had the opportunity to have sex with other women (within very reasonable boundaries!) when you wanted to do so without any flak at home, and you still decided you needed to lie? Moron.

        He regrets this terribly as the mistake of his life to this day. His loss.

        Then, Husband #2 had the opportunity to have a similar arrangement within our relationship from early on – I OFFERED, for God’s sake. I offered because I had experience being down that road, and I hadn’t been shattered by what had happened to the point that it put me off the idea completely. I knew for a fact it could work if everyone stayed committed to honesty. But no, he simply could not abide the idea at all, and insisted upon monogamy…and then broke his own rules! Double moron.

        Idiots, the both of them. And I’m really cute, too 😉 LOL

        • Cheater cheat. No matter if they are in an open or closed relationship. Cheating creates buzz. Adrenaline. Open marriage also becomes boring after a while so they need that buzz.

  • I read that nyt article and tripe like that just makes my skin crawl.

    I spent enough time on the reconciliation blogs to know that most of the time, unless both marriage partners were game for an “open relationship” when they met, it’s usually done due to coercion from one person, aka the Cheater.

    Creepy ex tried that on me. When we were about to reconcile, I said something that he apparently interpreted to mean it was OK for him to date whores while married to me. Uh, no. Should have booted his ass right then, that was really all I needed to know.

  • I got nothing.

    For me, if you want an open marriage, don’t get married. Just keep dating.

    WTF… is nothing sacred?

  • Little ole cynical me. Always, always follow the money. The NYT is trying its hardest to keep readers. What better way than have a bunch of people buy the paper, or subscribe online because it is now edgy and current. Every time you click on anything like, oh, say, Facebook money rolls in. I have no doubt the NYT does the same thing.

  • When people open their marriage to others they have justified dropping a boundary for personal gain. If my husband ever wanted to “enlighten” me in the joys of fucking others, I would end the “marriage” and then embrace the “joy” of fucking others.

    Open marriage? Hogwash. Literally.

  • After being cheated on in every relationship I’ve ever been in I am now in an open relationship. It is based on honesty and communication.

    It isn’t about endless sexual partners, it is about understanding that, for us, trust, honesty and communication is the key.

    I am bi- so I don’t want to have to pick a gender to have a relationship. If I do find another person I am interested in I would discuss this with my partner. We are more likely to add that relationship to our existing relationship, rather than me keeping that relationship separate from my current partner (polyamory). In three years of an open relationship neither of us have felt the need to have sex with anyone else. Being in an open relationship for us is about not putting restrictions on each other.

    Clearly this is not for everyone. My rule is every person involved is on the same page, knows what is going on and honesty is a requirement. I will not get involved with a cheater. If they are single or in an open relationship for real, then I will want to have some communication with their partner to verify that this is ok with them.

    So, no, this isn’t about endless sexual partners for me/us. Neither of us are focused on having sex or getting involved with other people. We simply decided that neither of us want monogamy so we will be honest with each other about situations that may come up.

    Flame away lol but I am far more secure in my current relationship than any other relationship in the past. We trust each other and talk about everything. Rigorous honesty is the key for us.

    Alternative relationships are far more common than you might think. Polyamory and open relationships can work and they do work for some people.

    • I believe you, but I also sincerely wonder how you manage it and how old you are. Do you have children? Do you have aging parents? Do you have a spouse who needs you or who is in crisis? What exactly are your sunk costs?

        • Yes we both feel cherished. I am treated better in this relationship than any other relationship I’ve ever had.

          We aren’t “dating other people” or even looking for other sexual partners or relationships. We are in a committed relationship with each other. We are just honest with each other that situations may present themselves in the future and that we are open to the possibilities.

          As I said, this is about honesty, trust and communication, not f**king around. Neither one of us has had a relationship or sexual relationship with anyone else in three years.

          The misperception is that being in an open relationship is primarly about sex. Maybe for some, but not for us and not for the people we know who are in open relationships.

          As for the details, we are in our 50s. My partner has adult children and grandchildren. I do not have children. Since we are in a committed relationship we handle the time constraints just like you do. We prioritize what needs to be done and make sure we make time for each other.

          As I said, I am bisexual. If I do meet someone of the opposite gender as my partner and I was interested in perhaps getting to know that person better, I would discuss this with my partner first. No hiding, no lying, no cheating. I would also be completely honest with the new person about our situation. If they weren’t comfortable with it I would simply let it go.

          I get that this is fairly new in terms of social discussion, but I assure you we know many people in open relationships and they are doing fine. Do they break up? Sure. So do monogamous relationships.

          Again, yes we feel cherished. Yes we deal with the same issues as people in monogamous relationships. Yes we have time constraints. No, this isn’t about f**king every person we run into.

          • That’s pretty awesome, Sam. You & your partner must be pretty amazing people, indeed, to have come this far and to honor each other’s wishes. I’m glad you found each other in this mixed up crazy world.

          • I’m understand you, sam. See my above novel.

            I have friends currently who spent more than four years within polyamorous guidelines because the guy is bisexual, and his girl didn’t want him to cut off that part of himself while they were dating. They got married after four years and closed their relationship at his urging at that point because they planned on having children. That raises the stakes significantly, putting a lot more practical pressure on both people to put the kids first (hard to be there to help out with a crying baby if you are out on a date with an extraneous boyfriend or girlfriend).

            They are now 17 years in to their relationship (4 poly years and 13 married, monogamous years), have three children, and are the among the happiest couples I know.

            Non-monomagous relationships come in all shapes, sizes and arrangements. Honesty is key.

          • Appreciate your post Sam. I believe that a poly group family could actually cope better with all the things adulting requires, including crisis if everyone is living together and all in on the relationship. The perceptions people have seems driven by not differentiating between ‘swinging’, ‘open relationships’ and ‘polyamory’. In my view, deception is the betrayal no matter how you set up your relationships. I also think ‘swingers’ have colored the lens for alternate relationships, in a bad way. And of course cheaters who change the rules in mid monogamy don’t help either, as is obvious here.

          • Sam – Please update us when your relationship has run the rigorous honesty gamut after one of you has had sex outside your relationship and wishes to continue doing so.

            I may have misread, but your polyamorous relationship has been monogamous to date.

            • We have both had sex independent of each other with other people while we have been together. We have also has sex with one particular person together. Just in the recent past we haven’t found other people to include.

              I do understand the cynicism, but the the bitter judgement is really hard to watch. Yikes. If it isn’t for you and/or you don’t understand, fine. But name calling (by some in the comments) and bitterness don’t seem appropriate.

      • I’m a 20-something in a long term poly relationship. We started poly so we were both honest and open from the get go. I love my relationship and our partners and our life together.

        Part of the reason I started reading this blog is because married people come to poly gatherings looking for affair partners and lie not only to their spouse, but to a non-monogamous individual starting a relationship in good faith. “Fucking around” aside, deception is awful and abusive when it happens to a poly person as well….and make no mistake being poly or open is no defense against getting involved with an abuser, Figuring how to ethically deal with this issue when it comes up, how to be respectful to a deceived spouse, how to sniff out cheaters looking to exploit honest, though unconventional, people is a high priority for me.

        I would never want to be an instrument of deception and cheating. I would never want to hurt someone the way so many people on this blog have been hurt. Being aware of how much pain cheating causes is important, but also being able to recognize shady behavior to avoid being in that situation is vital. We don’t deserve to be treated like shit either.

        Choosing polyamory is not an indictment against monogamy and honesty and trust are still foundations of our relationships. Chump Lady is pretty open minded concerning poly and open marriages and that’s why I keep reading.

    • Whatever floats your boat, Sam.

      With all due respect, Polyamory is the new word for fucking around. Nothing has changed there since the beginning of time.

      • No, polyamory is about relationships. I understand that there is a lot of prejudice about this, but if you actually talked to people in poly relationships you would understand that you are very wrong.

        • I believe that polyamory is about “non exclusive” relationships. You have your number 1 man or woman or gender neutral romantic sexual love interest and it is mutually agreed that you can enter into another similar relationship (your number 2 man or woman or gender neutral) or another (your number 3 etc., etc.) while remaining in a non-exclusive relationship with your number 1. I get it.

          But, it is not completely fluid and all lovey dovey because there are usually rules one must abide by and people change, grow, mature, get sick or prefer to be exclusive, decide to go straight or be bi or be gay and HOPEFULLY they are honest to number 1 when the changes take place. But then again, they can honestly say, they weren’t sure at the time and that’s why they didn’t say anthing but now that it’s out in the open………

          Sorry folks, to me this is an old story with a new name.

          • I’m with Calamity on this one. New name , same game. First DD of The Hemeroid was with a bi-nurse married to a doctor and they had a polymorous relationship. She, the nurse, had no problem with rubbing my lack of sophistication in my face- until I told her I had copies of her very graphic and disgusting texts.
            The texts were pure smut , nothing to do with friendship, growth , yet they ( nurse and my ex) felt they were so above me and enlightened. My husband And she laughingly discussed including me in their sexual escapades, but he drew the line at that ( he said nobly).

            I am so ashamed. I married someone who had so little respect for me that he allowed anther woman discuss ( in the vilest terms) what she would do with me. Sexually. And laughed about it. Together.
            Yes it is about sex- period.

      • So BE poly if you and your partners are honest and upfront about everything. Once deceit and deception creeps in, it is no longer poly. It’s unilateral = someone is cheating someone else.

        If this situation works for people, then great. They should continue because it works for them. I can’t understand how it works with kids, because even Sister Wives get shafted watching someone else’s kids while the other two go out on a ‘date’.

        I’m not wired this way and I see no real distinction between poly, open marriage and swinging. None of which fit my future relationship goals.

        • Well, ANC, it’s fine if you aren’t wired that way. That’s your choice and your freedom.

          Clearly, Sam & his partner have worked it out and seem to have a happy open relationship — as I said in posts above, I’ve not ever known them to work, from stories of friends who have been involved in them — but clearly Sam and his partner are open and committed to each other but have made allowances for desires outside a traditional relationship and it’s working for them, desires that BOTH of them seem to have and are honest about. Personally, I think it’s a refreshingly mature approach to a committed relationship to one another and I admire them in the same way I admire anyone who takes a conscious and mindful approach to their relationship.

          Not everyone thinks about sex in the same way. I’ll just speak for myself and say it doesn’t have to be a big committed emotional thing. If I feel like someone is really looking for a relationship, and I’m just looking for sex, then I honor that person’s feelings and won’t get involved. Similarly, I don’t feel people should judge me for engaging in a consensual physical act and not being emotionally involved.

          • Not judging anyone in an honest relationship or casual thing. I did spend a decade+ doing the casual thing, the non-exclusive dating thing and various committed relationships.

            My comment above is a personal headscratching thought about how would this work with kids? Seriously. I want to hear how it worked in a healthy poly or honest open relationship. My assumption is it would take very emotionally sound people to raise kids like this. There was a comment above about an open marriage couple who argued over who got to go out and who had to stay and watch the baby. That doesn’t sound healthy to me.

            I’m certainly not all over Sam for describing her relationship. Honesty is where you form trust. Trust creates the foundation. She has this in her relationship. Can’t say that existed in my marriage :).

            • Mine either, and thank you for clarifying. — I agree it would take a very healthy set of psychological skills to navigate raising kids in the relationship. But I don’t know that “watching the baby” is any harder to figure out for folks like Sam than for … well, I have a friend who just finished a monthlong sabbatical as scientist in residence for a remote community while her husband stayed home and watched the kids, the dogs, the chickens… That takes some navigating, as well. Similarly, I would take care of the house whenever XH wanted to go on some big adventure, like a several day canoe trip or big ski thing. — In all of these situations, if someone feels they’re getting the short end of the stick over & over again, then it’s not healthy. I don’t know that I think either parent going on a date is much different, logistically.

            • I am curious about this, as well. My Husband #1 and I did not have children. We did not plan on having children, either. I have two young children myself now, and would not have an open relationship if you paid me – lol! Raising kids is so taxing at times, I can only imagine I’d get quite pissy if I was at home with an angry three-year old while Daddy was out with the guys and possibly hooking up and having fun while I got yelled at for not putting the apple juice in the right cup. No, thank you.

              For me, it wouldn’t work with kids AT ALL.

              • Well, in a balanced relationship, Daddy would also get yelled at regarding the apple juice while YOU were out with a playmate. IMO.

      • I totally agree with you. Need to stop reading comments now defending this “lifestyle”. It’s a trigger for me to re-enter the depths of discard day hell with this talk about how I’m so morally rigid and everyone is doing it-just get with the program already-after 26 years of supposedly happy monogamy. I can’t deal with it right now. I believe in cherishing my husband and being cherished and not letting him find other holes to get excited about. Sorry, not sorry. That’s how I feel. I think if you want to be polyamory, just go ahead and don’t be married. Then you all can do whatever you want. But leave me out of it.

        • @ BeowulfSabrina, I am one of those defending the lifestyle. It isn’t for me, not anymore (not in a long time), but I admit to defending it here. I just want to say, as someone on the “other side,” so to speak: You were treated horribly, no one should EVER have said to you that you are morally rigid or you were somehow not enlightened enough. Your ex is an asshole. You had every right to expect monogamy, since that is what you agreed upon, and your ex is the one who isn’t evolved. A deadly pox on him. You were the real one, the enlightened one who understands that one does not just simply browbeat another into changing the terms of an intimate agreement based on love and respect – and if someone does that, it is an act of abuse and aggression. You didn’t deserve that.


          • Thanks for confirming this LMM. I had much the same experience as BeowulfSabrina and was told that I wasn’t being sophisticated or progressive enough. Yet the AP was! It was deeply, deeply hurtful and ultimately humiliating. An open marriage/relationship was just one boundary for myself that I could never go over and I allowed so many other boundaries to be crossed in my relationship with my STBX. I do firmly believe that this is one of those ideas that should be set up at the very beginning of a relationship for it to work. Being 10 years in and then having your spouse come and demand a polyamorous relationship was changing the terms of the original marriage contract too much for me. Ultimately though, it wasn’t the idea of the open marriage that was so revolting, but the abuse that I received because I wouldn’t buy into the idea and that he could never come to respect that drove me out of the marriage.

            • Open relationships should be put on the table early in a relationship if that is what one person desires. To bring it up way past the point that I love yous have been exchanged, bodily fluids have been exchanged, VOWS have been exchanged, children are shared, credit is joint….gah. No. Just no. Maybe it can be handled maturely and respectfully, I’ll allow for that. But to browbeat someone to try and get them to agree? Vile. To abuse someone because they DON’T agree to your newfound #relationshipgoals? GTFO.

              First rule of a healthy non-monogamous relationship – if it ain’t okay with your primary partner, it ain’t okay. And if you think THEY are weird for not thinking it is okay, you are an asshole.

        • Open/Poly relationships aren’t an indictment against non-monogamy and they shouldn’t be used that way. This article takes cheaters and people holding their marriages hostage and calls it “open.” It’s not open, its abusive.

          Sure there are smug assholes out there saying that non-monogamy is more “enlightened,” but assholes are assholes first and everything else is just to justify their assholeness. Open relationships are no protection against an abusive partner and deception is awful for whomever is experiencing it, poly or monogamous.

          I’m in a poly relationship for three years and I hear comments floating around like “they don’t know the meaning of the love!” “You two need to settle down and get married already!” or by contrast “What man will marry these sluts now?” “What will happen ‘when’ they have children?”

          I’ve seen some pretty awful marriages, but I’m expected to hold my piece out of politeness. I am not extended the same courtesy.

    • You say that in the past, all your partners cheated on you. I don’t see how opening your relationship fixes the problem of dating people who are dishonest and don’t respect you. Relaxing your boundaries doesn’t mean you won’t encounter people willing to trample all over them anyway.

      • I dunno, Lulu. Keeping up boundaries didn’t save my own marriage. Cheaters and liars are going to cheat and lie, no matter what the boundaries are.

        • But that’s exactly my point… cheaters and liars cheat. So if you’re continually being cheated on (like Sam) your solution should be to fix your “people picker” so you can avoid dating them, not lower your standards.

          • I think you’re doing Sam a disservice by implying she’s not in control of her own thoughts and feelings. I get the feeling this is something she also wants, not merely something she has “settled for.” Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean other people don’t.

            • I haven’t lowered my standards at all. I chose this relationship model. I haven’t settled. In fact, by requiring the level of honesty that is required in an open relationship (honestly with all people involved, not just with each other) I have actually raised my standards.

              I get that you don’t get this Lulu, but just because you don’t approve or understand doesn’t mean I’m flawed or that other people who are in alternate relationships are flawed or stupid, etc.

      • Opening a relationship doesn’t mean relaxing your boundaries, in fact Sam’s post indicates the opposite, they actually communicate with one another on those in a very real and honest way.

        • Yep. In truth, I’m jealous. Sam’s communications with his/her partner actually conveys exactly the kind of respectful communication and transparency I wish *I* could have had with XH!

          • Okay. For you and Dat it would not be relaxing your boundaries. But, for me and many others here, that is exactly how we would feel. In other words, being in an open marriage or relationship regardless of honesty, would be relaxing our boundaries.

            In a perfect world, everyone would be very open with what they would and would not accept in a personal relationship.

            I now know to ask this question to prospective suitors. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    • I’m with you Sam, (I’m also named Sam so that threw me for a hot minute). I’ve been in a non-monogamous relationship for three years and its the most loving relationship I’ve ever been in. We started poly, so no one ever lied to anyone else. We are always involved with our metamores, at the very least we know them and are friendly with them. We’re a bit different in that we didn’t foresee every possible scenario that could happen, but we deal with things as they come up.

      Nobody should be coerced into a relationship they don’t want. Monogamists are perfectly fine wanting what they want. However, we don’t need to be told “we don;t know how to love.” Seriously, how can anyone tell anyone else how they feel? You can call out shitty behavior, but how does anyone else know how deeply I love or that its invalid?

      Honestly the question the NYT article poses is “are open marriages happier” and I sincerely believe the articles intended conclusion is “no open marriages are terrible, cheating by another name, and holding the marriage hostage.” I don’t blame people for reacting so strongly if this is the case given for any type of open relationship, The people who do it well and are in it for the long haul aren’t featured on the front page of NYT.

  • Not gonna flame.

    It’s all down to ONE question for me, all of this justification is….”Methinks thou dost protest too much”.

    If you can answer this one question in the affirmative, with your SO sitting right there, then I have zero problem with you.

    “Does your partner know that you are involved IN ANY WAY with someone that is not him/her?”

    If the answer is NO or there is any hedging, then you are a fucking cake eating douchebag cheater of the most common sort. Bringing children and time taken and justifying why this works and that doesn’t work and rules and bullshit? Just that. BULLSHIT.

    If you can have your SO sit next to you, in front of a third party (preferably a divorce attorney) and say, “This was known and agreed upon when I met her/him, he/she married me with the understanding and open communication that there would be others in the relationship and I have been honest/open at all times with my spouse.” I think your SO is an idiot for selling themselves so short, to be honest.

    Seriously? You just think that much of yourself that you have to spread the joy that is you?

    My ex said something on the line of, “Well, if I’d have TOLD YOU about so-and-so, you would have gone into a jealous rage! You wouldn’t have understood!” Um, yeah….because you are stealing from me and lying, asshole. You steal my time, my trust and my effort. You steal from our kids, my family and my self esteem. You are a LIAR.

    I have never, ever met anybody in any type of situation like this who tells the complete truth about it. Never. And it’s always a power play. It’s always the naughtiness and the dirty secrets that give them a hard-on to do it. Until they get caught, then it is blameshifting to YOU that you wouldn’t have understood.

    Yeah, I understood alright. I understood that you’re a liar and a thief and my life is a-okay without the joy that is you. Go spread your….whatever it is you spread….to someone else.

    • Yes, we both have been attracted to other people and we have talked to each other about it.

      I’m not ‘protesting’ I’m simply saying that any judgement about this without know actual people involved in alternative relationships is conjecture on your part.

      Since me sharing my actual experience and the experiences of people I know is being misconstrued as “protesing” or “defending” or “justifying” I will now bow out.

      Enjoy your discussion, but it would be a more fruitful discussion if you simply listened and learned instead of calling bullsh*t on things you don’t understand.

      • You actually DID explain how poly works for you, which is helpful.

        For you and your partner it’s not about rando sex. I read you value your primary relationship and by adding anyone else, you are adding a relationship not a fuck buddy.

      • Point made.

        “You just aren’t enlightened enough to understand.”

        Sorry, Sam. We’ve ALL heard this one before. We peasants just don’t have the capacity to understand those who breathe the rarified air that is “polyamory”. Which to any critically thinking person translates into, “I am going to do what I want, with whomever I choose, and if you want to be with the wonderfulness that is me, you’ll go along with it.”

        And some poor thing, who probably believes that they’ll change you by showing you that they are the best thing for you (raising hand here)….spend decades trying to prove to you that they are worthy of your exclusive attention.

        I call bullshit because I can bet any amount you’d like, that your partner doesn’t know “all” that you’ve done or are doing. And vice versa. Like one of my EXs fuckbuddies said, “We all see what we want to see.”

        That’s the truth of it. I’m not criticizing you or your SO for wanting to see what you want to see. I’m saying that attempting to justify being able to have anything you want, anytime you like—-is dishonest. If you can say to me that EVERY SINGLE PARTNER, whether it’s an EA or a PA….that they had no other person in THEIR lives that “didn’t know”….I will tell you that you’re lying.

        This is what just doesn’t get through to cheaters. There are others involved than just you and your SO and the affair partner. There are OTHERS. It is a character issue. YOU may not be a liar of the first order, and maybe you ARE honest with your partner at all times—but is your affair partner? Are you SURE that nobody else is getting screwed without having dinner purchased for them first? Are you sure that they’re not out fucking everything that moves and bringing some crazy or some disease into YOUR “honest” relationship with them?

        So what you want me to believe that you just pick all of the honest ones and the liars are reserved for the rest of us?

        That’s what you don’t consider. My Ex would just “talk on the phone” with his various EAs…nobody harmed, right? Well, turns out, three of those EAs have boyfriends and kids. One is married. Let’s all sit down together with our respective EAs and PAs and make sure that all involved are on the same page.

        I’ll be the pool of “polyamorists” dries up real fast. Then it turns into another blameshifting bullshit cheater excuse…”I’m not responsible for my EA or PAs personal business. It was about ME ME ME ME ME and what I wanted. What THEY do on their personal time is ON THEM!”

        My Ex said the same things. “I never asked so-and-so to fall in love with me!” “I never told so-and-so that I’d leave you for her!” But the implication is there, and there was no discouragement of allowing someone else to believe that there might be a future with him. I’ve heard it all already, Sam.

        Just that one line of yours….that we just aren’t able to understand you….was all we had to hear.

        • “Sorry, Sam. We’ve ALL heard this one before. We peasants just don’t have the capacity to understand those who breathe the rarified air that is “polyamory”. Which to any critically thinking person translates into, “I am going to do what I want, with whomever I choose, and if you want to be with the wonderfulness that is me, you’ll go along with it.”

          Yes, actually, that IS it. Which is kind of the point, minus the sarcasm. If these things are communicated with honesty, up front, then any personal judgments one has against it can be exercised and they can be expected to make the right decisions for themselves. If they aren’t down with it, they can move on to a different, more traditional relationship. But to get angry at the person who is communicating up front that they aren’t interested in monogamy, and expect their relationships to be open instead…well, that is kind of a personal preference thing, right? At least they are being honest and giving other people a chance to make informed decisions about what they want.

          • I’m with you, LMM. I think a relationship with another person involves all sorts of compromises: I liked to travel without XH sometimes (mostly to attend language classes abroad), he enjoyed white-water canoeing (yes, that’s a thing), his work hours (and mine) were sometimes very unusual and taxing on the relationship. So, for those of us for whom sex isn’t such a big deal, incorporating that into a relationship is one more thing to navigate… but **honestly** with one another, in advance, up front.

            If I started dating someone and told them I would want to travel without them, and they said No, then I could move out of that relationship. Similarly with sex with other people. As I said, it’s not right for me for a variety of reasons. But there’s nothing wrong (and everything right, as far as I’m concerned) with making your needs known, up front, honestly, respectfully. If it’s not your bag, then move on.

        • Why can’t Sam be enlightened with her enlightened partners? Assuming there is no secretive shit happening. It’s not the kind of relationship *I* want. It’s working for her and her primary SO right now.

          Railing like this is no different than the ultra right Christians railing on Muslims in the US. Who is to say God and Allah are not the same thing? Which Christian or Muslim put the special Love Thy Neighbor..ONLY IF caveat into the word of their higher being? I’m not Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or anything else. Why would I think my way of worship is better than another’s?

          Assholes find great ways to manipulate the people around them. So as long as she talks the talk and walks the walk in transparent honesty, isn’t she wanting the same thing in relationships as me or you? I don’t understand poly, open or swinging. Not at all. There are those who use these terms to get buy-in for the fuck buddy buffett. She stated how she and her SO have framed their relationship. If they are true and honest to their statements, it works for them.

          It is what we all had desired from our primary relationships with the assholes we have left behind. The biggest difference is that we engaged with lying cheating fuckwits.

          I’m rambling. This is an open wound because we were played without our knowledge. If I became involved with a person who said they were poly, I would not continue the relationship. It makes zero sense to me. Why waste my time on part of a person? I want the entire real deal and won’t settle for half, thirds or quarters. (Kinda like I can’t raise my kids catholic. Who the heck decided everyone is born a sinner???)

        • I got this…IF I loved him as much as I said I did, I’d allow him to pursue this other person. UH, if he loved ME as much as he said he did, he wouldn’t have betrayed our vows.

        • I think those in monogamous and those in polyamorous (or formerly polyamorous) relationships/marriages all have valid points. But just because you are polyamorous DOES NOT mean that you are liberal, progressive or sophisticated. I feel Sam said it best when she said that both types of relationships require different things from each party, but that they ultimately amount to the same thing – relationships are hard work period. I don’t fault anyone for being in the polyamorous group. I don’t want that for myself, but I definitely do not think that your polyamory makes you so much more forward thinking than me. That defense just doesn’t cut the mustard. All it means is that you think differently about relationships than I do and your boundaries are different than mine. If I read more between the lines, I would also venture to say that you value different things in relationships than I do. But yet again, just because you can have romance and love for more than one person and continue to have high function in your life (cherish and love your marriage partner, hold a job, raise the kids, do the budget, cook the dinners, do the laundry, keep up with current events and your own hobbies and interests) does not make you more progressive than me who isn’t interested in the polyamory part.

          I think you are progressive and sophisticated when you finally know what you want and you can live with yourself in spite of those things + be honest and open with everyone in your life about you and your choices. That is integrity and in both types of relationships this can be hard to come by. An old idea, but something that is the very essence of sophistication and progression in my book.

          • This I agree with. I really don’t like the condescending tone of both sides claiming superiority over one another. It’s great to have different opinions and ways of doing things and to agree with a common point that cheaters are assholes and are a category of their own.

        • I’ll take your bet, how much do you want to put on the table? I could use some easy money. Here’s a really good litmus test for seeing if a potential partner might be a cheater: ask to meet the spouse. If they say no that’s a red flag. I don’t need to besties with the spouse, but I’m sure as hell not a dirty little secret and I’m verifying that s/he knows what is going on and is agreeing to it.

          The lying cheaters lie to us too. It’s really awful to have picked someone who makes a fool out of you, poly or mono. We do the best we can with the information and experience we have. If someone says that s/he is single and they aren’t, well, how do you deal with that kind of deception?

          Weirdly enough, there are plenty of people who think cheating is perfectly normal and fine to participate in it, but WE’RE bizarre ones for not lying about it and being okay with it.

      • Sam, your business is your business. You are single, and your significant other is as well, but has many family obligations. People on this site have been so badly shit on that your lifestyle is nothing short of insulting. How do you meet these other people? Are they single as well? If not does their significant other agree? Are there children involved that require time? If so is this discussed as a hobby? It just reminds Chumps that daddy working late was off cheating. Mama in her group meetings was often cheating. Daddy in his office with the door shut working at his computer was probably downloading porn. No one here has any good memories of someone out spreading their sexual joy around. If your significant other has to go out of town to help with family are you allowed to play around? Your name is Sam so I assume you are a man. Is your significant other male or female? If your SO is a woman then she has obligations as a mother and a grandmother. If he is a man he might as will need to go and take care of family business. Are you both allowed to look around while you are living away from each other? What Chumps are looking at is how you can sustain this over a lifetime. How do you meet these people? How do you know that they are trustworthy? How do you know they don’t have sexually transmitted diseases? In your 50s you sound pretty settled. I think you said you had not had another partner for three years. Still, it sounds to me is that you need to join a book club that only reads real intense, intellectually stimulating books. That would give you someone to talk to about philosophy. You have not said what your significant other likes to do but obviously does not have the same interest in what you like to talk about. There is no problem with anyone being a friend as long as it is an open friendship where are your significant other knows everything that is going on. How many times does that happen? I just wonder. Does your significant other bake brownies while you’re in the bedroom doing your thing? How in the hell do the two of you two manage this? It’s just so out there.

        • And how did the two of you meet and how did the two of you decide this was a lifestyle both of you agreed on 100%? I am really serious about this. Was it 100% for both of you or did one of you have to give in? I just do not understand how jealousy does not come into this. One of you is going to make an emotional connection to someone. That is human nature.

        • Unlike Sam here, my partner and I do have several sexual partners, some together, some on our own. Everyone is aware of everyone else and we’re pretty open with our close friends. I’m female by the way.

          My primary and I met at a party and before we went on a date he disclosed that he was in an open relationship for seven years. His primary at the time had other partners as well. Before we started dating, I insisted on speaking to his main partner first or it was a no go. I’d seen people use “open” as an excuse to cheat. I was single and was deliberately NOT looking for anything serious, I thought this would be a good safeguard from getting too attached (oops). So we started as something casual and it developed into a secondary relationship. When they went on vacation, I watched their cats and me and the womans’ other boyfriend fixed up the house for them with food in the fridge when they got back (vegan).

          Eventually my partner broke up with his then primary. They had several issues, but among them was how they each wanted to be open, they weren’t compatible anymore. She wanted to close things off, get married and have kids (unilaterally trying to change the terms of the relationship anyone?) He didn’t want that, so they parted ways. They met when they were 22 and broke up when they were 30. That’s not exactly a BS relationship, they would have qualified for common law marriage.

          We have a different type of poly relationship than he did with his ex, there are lots of models. We started open, we don’t have hard rules per say. If one of us is uncomfortable we say so and things slow down or stop as needed.

          Jealousy is a normal human emotion, we all experience it now and then and those who say they don’t are lying. But jealousy is not a huge insurmountable obstacle and it goes away. I actually find meeting the other partner makes me feel a lot better about my partners new romance. My partner and I live together, split the bills, both work, share a cat, no kids, we’re involved with each others families and they know we’re open (no details).

          We meet new people because similar to how everyone on this forum came looking for community, poly/open people are also looking for those who are like minded. There are meet ups, picnics, dating apps. It’s a small community so word gets around fast if someone is a bad person. We do our best to make sure people are trustworthy, but as everyone at chump nation can attest to, sometimes people lie and deceive. I try to get to know someone for a long time before starting anything. We often go long periods where one or both of us doesn’t have any other sexual partners. Some former sexual partners have settled into just being good friends. We’re actually in it for the emotional connections. Our line of thinking “why is it a bad thing to love more than one person?” “Why should loving someone and caring for them be considered threatening?” That said: time is finite and different relationships have their limitations. That’s perfectly fine too.

          As far as sex goes: protections with other partners always. We can accommodate any protection measure: condoms, dental dams, latex gloves. We’re screened about twice a year. I’m female and have vaccinations against HPV, but at a certain point, our risk of exposure is just higher. My partner got HPV once and the person who gave it to him didn’t know at the time. She handled it maturely and told him as soon as she knew, he went to the doctor and it was dealt with. We’ve accepted a higher level of risk and do whatever we can to mitigate it. If someone asked me to get tested and demanded to see my results that’s fine with both us, you can;t be too careful.

          How do we sustain it over a lifetime? We’re figuring it out as we go and doing the best we can.

      • You’re probably not still reading along, Sam, but if you are, I just want to thank you for sharing your story. As I said above, I admire that you and your partner have found a way to find happiness in this world, with each other, by being honest with each other and with others outside your relationship. I wish you the best of luck living a long and happy life together.

        • Thank NW and LMM. Yes, I was curious so I am reading. Just want to thank you both.

          Cheaters and liars cheat and lie regardless of their relationship status.

          I’m not a cheater, I’m not a liar and I don’t get involved with cheaters and liars.

          The type of relationship I am in requires rigorous honesty. So does monogamy. Relationships all require the same things.

          I decided I was going to find partners that wanted the same level of honesty I do. I decided on an open relationship model for many reasons and none of those reasons are about sex. I only dated people who wanted non-monogamy. I will only get involved with people in the future who want non-monogamy.

          Non-monogamy requires the same relationship skills monogamous relationships do.

          I won’t say more, just thanks again NW and LMM for understanding.

          • Thank YOU for your courage. This isn’t the easiest place to share such a story as your own. (Ask me how I know!) 🙂

          • Sam, thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m glad it works for you and that you feel cherished.

            Speaking for myself, I couldn’t feel cherished if my partner told me that he fancies fucking someone else. And I realize that of course, we all have fantasies and aren’t dead and can imagine sex with other people — but to act on that, for me, would require a disconnect from my husband that I’m just not wired for. Even if he was all — hey! go ahead!

            I can’t get past the pick-me dance part. Any configuration of people at any given time is never on equal footing, in terms of attractiveness, neediness, health, time, attention.

            When the scale is unbalanced (say, your partner is having sinus surgery and you’re off having a dalliance), you’d have to work extra hard to reassure your partner, that yes, you still find them attractive, even though the person’s got gauze stuck up their nose for the next week and are woozy with pain.

            Just seems terribly complicated and fraught to me. But if it works for you and no one gets hurt, live and let live.

            Folks, let’s please keep it respectful here in the comments. I hate moderating and Tempest will have to knock heads.

            • There is no ‘pick me’ when everyone is on the same page. When everyone agrees. When there is no deception.

              If one person needs more of “xyz” at any given point or there are things that need to be attended to then emotionally mature people should be able to work it out.

              I want the best for my partner and my partner wants the best for me. If that includes adding someone to our relationship (poly) or one or both of us having a relationship with someone independent of our relationship then that is fine with us.

              There is no competition in my mind. I don’t need reassurance. When my partner is with someone else I don’t compare or wonder where I stand. I know where I stand. My partner and I are the primary relationship. We are in a committed relationship. We will both work towards that goal.

              If you trust someone then you trust their judgment. I trust that my partner will be honest and that we will remain in a committed, honest and open relationship. My partner feels the same about me.

              If it doesn’t work eventually, oh well. I do not know one couple, monogamous or not, who isn’t divorced. Realistically there is no way one person can be everything to another or meet all of another person’s needs.

              I suspect that bisexual people may be more inclined to see this from my perspective. I wouldn’t want my partner to have to give up part of themselves to be in a relationship with me. My partner doesn’t expect me to give up part of myself. We see our relationship as open, but it could evolve into a poly situation if we were to find another compatible person or two to add to our relationship.

              It does take a shift in perspective. There can be no jealousy or sense of ownership. Trust needs to be the foundation. Communication must be paramount. Honesty must be rigorous.

              I do personally find the “sister wives” television situation hypocritical. He gets multiples and the wives don’t. That is unfair and patriarchal. Equality should be the goal. I find him immature, childish and ridiculous.

              • To Sam,You don’t know one couple that’s not divorced? Amazing I know many many couples. No wonder why you prefer this lifestyle. I’m sorry I am sure you have been hurt. Very sorry for that. I have been with my wife 31 years 27 married. I met her when she was 22 and we have a 22 year old son. We actually had a good laugh about that. So I am 58 now. I think that is pretty successful monogamous marriage. Yes we have had ups and downs but yes we know how to communicate to and we no we have not ever slept with anyone else. I’m not trying to down grade your style. I just wanted you to know that some people in your age range stay happily married. And yes we still have an exciting romantic sexual life. I’m not here to judge. I believe in infinite love also but not infinite sharing sexual intamcy. I think what most people here do not understand or should I say is the thinking is that sharing sexual intamcy cheapens it. And you don’t see in that way. And neither side will ever understand each. Just my 2 cents.

            • Newsflash: I have deleted posts with name calling. Please don’t make me do it again as I have better things to do with my time than chastise adults on how to have a civil conversation.

        • Thanks to you as well Dat!

          FTR I am a female ‘Sam’ not a male ‘Sam.’ I’m very curious if that changes people’s perceptions of what I’ve written lol 😉 Are females who choose an open relationship or poly relationship viewed differently than males who want the same? Are bi- females viewed differently than bi- males?

          I made my choice prior to finding my current relationship partner so I was not forced into anything by a cheater. I made a choice for myself. I found someone who shared my point of view.

          We are doing great and going strong and I’ve never been in a more honest relationship in my life.

          • “I found someone who shared my point of view.” — Thanks for the inspiration. I hope to do the same, someday.

            And I’d love to explore the notion whether you’re female or male has any impact on a person’s bias toward your perspective, but the dogs are begging me to “STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!!!” 🙂

      • Hi Sam, I’m just curious, what is it that you are seeking in this type of lifestyle as opposed to a monogamous one?

        • Another misperception is that people in alternative relationships want different things than people who want/are in monogamous relationships.

          We all want the same things. It takes the same stuff to may any relationship work

          People are seeing differences when in the big picture it isn’t that different at all.

          • I’m sorry, I still don’t understand. And by the way, my question is from a non-judgmental view.

            Maybe if I rephrase it to, what are you gaining from a multi-relationship? What need are you fulfilling?

      • Sam

        “Clearly this is not for everyone. My rule is every person involved is on the same page, knows what is going on and honesty is a requirement. I will not get involved with a cheater. If they are single or in an open relationship for real, then I will want to have some communication with their partner to verify that this is ok with them.”

        I respect the fact you meet the partner. However, if it’s not just about sex as you stated I’m assuming you maintain a long term relationship with the person.

        Trust is developed over time. If monogamy didn’t work for you then I question why commit to a primary partner through marriage? What is the point?

        It appears you made this choice and communicated an open marriage from the get go. Regardless of your lifestyle choice I believe you are sincere and I see nothing that screams of deception.

        I was approached by a man who was interested in booking up and then introduced me to his girlfriend. It didn’t offend me in the least because it’s the lifestyle they chose. It’s just not for me in particular.

        While you say it’s not about sex I wonder what it is about?

        • There are lots of reasons non-monogamous people choose to get married. Being able to visit their partner in the hospital for one. Inheritance, life insurance, the sheer privilege of being able to take care of your partner the way any married monogamous person can. All those rights that the LGBT community fought so hard for in marriage equality still count for non-monogamous life partners. Ideally it could be extended to poly triads and polycules, but you get my drift. My partner and I are two different nationalities, I have dual citizenship. If we move to another country, we need to be married or risk being separated. Sometimes its a privilege NOT to be married, depending on where you are from or where you are living.

        • >>>While you say it’s not about sex I wonder what it is about?<<<

          Good question, Doingme.

          I don't know why people say that stuff either.

          Isn't that the whole gist of non-manogamy?

          If having non-exclusive sex in the marriage or relationship is not the opposite of monogamy, then what is monogamy?

          Or when someone builds a huge case to defend themselves (even when nobody is ever on the offense) for having sex with strangers, but also describes themselves as, "… those of us for whom sex isn't a big deal …"

          It's like the "Puritan" past is so lodged in the back of our minds through history, that people feel a need to defend their sexual behavior while also "non-defending" it, if you will.

          It just goes to show how societal "group think" of the past lingers on and affects those in the present who are living a different paradigm so that they are compelled to point out they're not sexual deviants, for lack of a better term.

          I do get that people are not satyrs and nymphs, but these topics (non-monogamy, casual sex with strangers, etc.) are primarily concerned with sexual behavior. Or …?

          TY to the people sharing your experience.

          AFA I am concerned, you don't need to defend your sexual choices, but it's disingenuous to also claim that sex has nothing to do with it.

          I think people have more trouble swallowing that than how you personally choose to express your sexuality.

          • Non-monogamy is not exclusively about sex, it;s about relationships, sexual and emotional. Monogamy is only used for sexual conduct. People on this blog talk about emotional affairs all the time as well as sexual affairs.

            Non-exclusive sex is a defining characteristic, but its not the only characteristic, and yes, lots of people paint us as sexual deviants and liars, so there’s a lot of needing to assert that we’re normal people first, just simply making different choices and view things a bit differently. Different perspectives on certain issues is not a carte blanch to justify being terrible to people. Monogamy and Polyamory are not sticks to beat people with and they aren’t meant to shame people.

  • I’m sure the New York Times will run an equally compelling front page series about the deep joy and benefits of honest relationships and monogamy. At this point it would be such a cutting edge-statement from the heart of a counterculture everyone seems to have forgotten exists. They’d have the opportunity to scoop the competition and start new trends.

    Oh no, wait. It’s just a whole lot easier to toss a rock out the window and interview the cheater it strikes. As if the story was something new.

  • Between David Brooks and that front-page (for days!) focus on polyamory, I am giving the NYT a pass these days.

    Thank god for Judy Woodruff at PBS Newshour.

    Sometimes it feels like D-day was a rabbit hole (mine happened during primary season) but instead of Wonderland, it is nightmare-land where everything is suspect and corrupt and Trump is the Mad Hatter.

    • Right?!

      I’m seriously rethinking my subscription to the NYT as well.

      I have always loved and cherished those spouses and couples who love each other and enjoy monogamy. They are the heroes. They are the bedrock of a community.

  • I will only partner with someone who wants me and only me and feels happy to be exclusive and be eachother’s only sexual and romantic partner.

    I thought I had that with X. He lied and cheated and stole and abused for 25 years I now know.
    He ruined my childrens’ lives when his lies were discovered.

    During the false reconciliation 2 years ago X continued to demand ever greater loyalty and devotion and help from me– while fucking and lying and building false futures with other women.

    His house of cards fell. He lost everything. Kids hate him, I got all assets, full custody. I’m NC so he can’t get anything from me ever again. He’s dead to me. Natural consequences.

    Does he have an open relationship with AP? I don’t know and done care. Tuesday arrived awhile ago. Meh is peaceful.

    • MotherChumper99, what a boring and square personality, my goodness! Don’t you know that life is not black and white but shades of grey? What kind of a maximalistic teenage attitude that is! Exclusivity with you? You need to grow up finally! Monogamy is just not natural! Life is given to us once and we have to rip the maximum benefits. I really hope you can be more open and mature about your relationships and stop that child-like gibberish. There are no guarantees in life, we may all die today, so why wouldn’t you want to create a better and more satisfying life for yourself and others you care about?

      Sigh….all of this I heard.

      • I was told I was bourgeois about my views of exclusivity within marriage. X, in his former marriage, had been known to quote Dumas, “The chain of marriage is so heavy that it takes two to bear it; sometimes three.” I wonder how heavy the chain is of having your ex-wife and youngest daughter never want to talk to you again.

      • I got the “shades of gray” speech too, right after my world exploded with the statement that he “fell in love” with someone he only knew for a handful of weeks. How I needed to become polyamory now to help him decide who he loved. Selfish bastard.

  • Personally an open marriage for me is impossible. I’m just not designed that way.

    However, if a couple decides that’s what they want to do, and do it correctly, it requires a high level of maturity, openness, trust… And a shit load of rules.

    Anyone who is cheated on their partner who offers an open marriage is an option is full of shit and incapable of having an open marriage. Trust is the foundation of an open marriage and the cheater has proven they are unable to do it.

    Lastly, these cheaters think they are above the rules, so no matter what what you have in place — HIV testing, priority of the partner, children priority, agreeing in the event there’s an emergency you need to leave to take care of your family, maximum budget allowed to spend on the love interest, massive boundaries – – the cheater will just ramshod over these.

    • GR, your post is a breath of fresh air after all the backlash against Sam above. Thank you for your first line, “Personally, it’s not for me.” Me, neither. I know myself well enough to know I would be jealous, especially after XH screwing around with OW outside the bounds of our monogamous marriage.

      As I said above, cheaters gonna cheat. Liars gonna lie. No matter what the boundaries are.

      • I agree with NWBiblio (I usually do), GR. Thank you for not piling on Sam or myself about or relationship choices.

        I have two young children now, and for me, open relationships are off the table – how WOULD I find the time? 🙂 My own open relationship was 20+ years ago and long behind me. Since I was chumped, as well (in both situations), I now have the added bonus of having some insecurities attach themselves to my soul in a way I did not have when I was 19 years old and as dumb and inexperienced as a fencepost. I have evolved into monogamy and would have it no other way. But I remain supportive of those who negotiate these things for themselves and make the choice for what they want, just as I expect them to support my choices for myself.

        • “But I remain supportive of those who negotiate these things for themselves and make the choice for what they want, just as I expect them to support my choices for myself”

          This is such a beautiful thought, especially in these intolerant times, that it actually brings a tear to my eye. Thanks for that, LMM.

      • +1 I would try this out, I have no jealousy so that would be workable. I’ve never met people that even considered a true poly relationship.

  • Open Marriage = Cake SMOR GAS BORD!

    No LOVE and RESPECT found in the ingredients!

    As they say on Shark Tank:
    I’AM. OUT.”

  • Cheater suggested open marriage after continuously gaslighting and denying his long-term affair after DDay 1, then admitting to it and charming me back into the wreckonciliation and finally being caught again with yet another one after a few months. He threw the “Why can’t we try the open marriage? It could revive our relationship…” hook for hopium which I would have fallen for if not you all here at CN.

    Thankfully, I had discovered CL by then and told him he had lived the open marriage through our entire marriage without me knowing. He was a lier and a cheater. He wanted to maintain cake and kibbles with me now officially endorsing it? Get the fuck out!

    I also try to be open minded and if there is an agreement between two adults to live this way, so be it. Not for me, but I try to not judge. I don’t personally know any openly practicing open marriage couples but I have friends of friends who tell stories. What I get from this is that this arrangement is typically proposed by the partner who is not into monogamy and is bored. The other party is in most cases just a follower and reluctant participator mostly out of fear of abandonment or family/relationship break up. Even when there is no cheating involved, one party usually has an upper hand in the relationship while the other is down and struggling. I was told about this particular couple with 3 teenaged kids, both university profs in their mid 40s, where the wife has now decided she wanted to spend more time with this particular fuckbuddy and the husband started feeling jealous and insecure. What was initially a purely sexual engagement started turning into an emotional attachment so the husband felt the wife was now focused on her sex partner with her mind as well as body. He did not mind the occasional sex but he did not like what this was turning into and started complaining and opposing her engagement. The wife, on the other hand, was pissed at the husband and did not like his jealousy and insecurity manifestations. She said she would not mind if the husband also found a more or less permanent fuckbuddy and she was not to be blamed for the fact that she was luckier.

    Clearly, even the open marriage schtick is not sufficient to provide for the sense of security we so long for. Is this then really an equal and equitable arrangement or is it just a cover up and justification for cheaters who constantly crave sparkles and cake? And I also agree with Tracy- how do you, university professors with 3 teenage kids, find the time for it? Clearly a slacker I am…

  • If you need an open marriage or just want to cheat, then marriage is not for you. JUST STAY SINGLE!!!
    That way no spouse and kids involved, but that probably wouldn’t be as exciting for the cheater. No one to hurt.

  • Why bother with marriage at all? Marriage is meant to be a closed system. If people want constant romantic and sexual flexibility, choice, or openness, why not just skip marriage entirely?

    I don’t think the “open” marriage idea is particularly liberal, it’s just oxymoronic, with emphasis on “moronic.”

    A little bit married? Sort of committed? Sheesh. Be sure to serve the jumbo shrimp at that wedding reception.

    • I don’t think the “open” marriage idea is particularly liberal, it’s just oxymoronic, with emphasis on “moronic.”

      Take a bow @cashmere. You’re one whip-smart woman.

    • Because then who would take care of the boring, routine bits of life while the cheater/is off cavorting with their sexual partners? As someone very astutely pointed out above, cheaters want all of the fun with none of the responsibility. We don’t see Schmoopie volunteering to wait around for the all-day time bracket that that plumber might or might not choose to come in that day, or hanging out their undies. They’re all hotel assignations, champagne and giggles. Or as someone classically mentioned a few weeks ago, “…cheap mall lingerie and burner phones” (sorry, I can’t remember the first thing on the list, but that whole phrase made me snort). Also, I get the feeling that some people that agree to an open relationship do so because they are afraid to make cheating a dealbreaker, because in their heart of hearts they suspect that that is what is going to end up happening in their relationship, due to lack of basic structural integrity, but they don’t want to be forced to draw the line and throw the relationship in the trash when that line is crossed.

  • Chump Lady, for being such an old-school unenlightened chump, your post today was very prophetic and enlightened.

    Thank you.

  • Pulling out the nerd card here–it’s a matter of statistics. Even if we could agree that what two completely honest, consenting adults do within their relationship is their own business, I’d like to see actual statistics on the percentage of polyamorous vs. monogamous relationships that break up. My hypothesis? the polyamorous ones, statistically speaking, are less likely to last. In search of data….

    (and knowing one or two couples for whom it did work is not a refutation of the hypothesis; the plural of anecdote is not data).

    • Tempest, if you are on the case, I would wager we will have real data to work with shortly – lol! I’d be curious myself.

    • Well, but what would be a break up? Openly and honestly stating that one wishes to move on would just be more of the same, seems like. If relationships are open and fluid with no boundaries to speak of, then moving on would just be another step in the endless dance with many impermanent partners, some longer lasting than others, but none rising to the status of a “closed” relationship in a way that makes breaking up a meaningful concept.

      • Agreed. I suspect it will be hard to track down reliable data–on line polls are going to have a high self-selection bias (unless steps were taken to minimize that); some of the polyamorous relationships will be one-sided where one partner pushed for polyamory and the other agreed just to keep the relationship (but doesn’t really want to engage in polyamory themselves).

        At a minimum, non-monogamy introduces one more variable into relationships, where there are already enough variables contributing to lack of success of a marriage.

        • A quick search indicates there is a paucity of data. You probably have access to studies I can’t get to. It appears that there simply is no evidence monogamy OR polyamory is better in terms of relationship longevity. Sounds like it’s time for someone to do a decent study.

          PS: breaking up is not just more of the same, it’s the end of the relationship. Lot of bias going on.

          • Why would openly and honestly stating that one wishes to move on be any different than any other move in an open relationship? What is there to break?

            • Cashmere, I get it, you do not approve of polyamory or open relationships. That’s fine. Continuing to state something obviously inaccurate isn’t particularly rational or helpful to discussion. I’ll assume you are being facetious.

              • I generally disapprove of people tells no me, generally inaccurately, as in this case,what I think or what I said. The question stands.

              • Bah, autocorrect. Better:

                I disapprove of people telling me, generally inaccurately, as in this case, what I think or what I said. The question stands.

              • Disagreement and debate are where ignorance ends, not where it begins. Unwillingness to debate, though, perpetuates ignorance, which is a shame, I always think.

            • The implication of this comment is that an open relationship is not a real relationship, hence the question “What is there to break?” This implies that when people break up in an open relationship, nothing of significance was actually broken.

              I say this with love and respect, I hope you know that – but that implies that when my ex-husband lied to me and broke the promises we had made to each other, I did not have as much right to feel angry or foolish. Essentially, I don’t have as much right to feel chumped as a chump in a traditional marriage.

              That hurts.

              • Don’t let ignorance hurt you Little Mighty Me. You had a a relationship and you were chumped. Jedi Hugs!

              • Again with the putting words in my mouth, and attributing to me all sorts of stances and motivations that I never actually delineated. What I did ask was how openly and honestly expressing one’s desire to move on constitutes a break. There is no expectation of exclusivity. The commitment to openness and honesty is primary, so what breach of the agreement would be entailed by openly and honestly declaring that one is moving on? What is there to break? The lying can and does happen everywhere, but what breaks under the conditions I stipulated: openly and honestly moving on?

            • Openly and honestly deciding to move on in an open relationship is no different than openly and honestly deciding to move on in a closed relationship. I guess the answer to “what is there to break?” can be asked of closed relationships, too. I also suspect the answer would be different for everyone. I answered you down-thread as to what I felt I lost when my ex lied to me and broke the promises we had made…but that isn’t your question, as I understand it. You specifically stated “openly and honestly” moving on.

              So, the answer is going to vary depending on the person answering and what they had invested in the relationship in question. Just like ANY OTHER RELATIONSHIP wherein one person decides to move on.

              • For me, that does not stand up to logical scrutiny. If there is no expectation of exclusivity, then there does not seem to be any breach of the understanding. Sure, you can be sorry to see someone go, but if the break is deeply hurtful, then perhaps on some level there was an expectation of, if not exclusivity, at least special status on some level.

                When dating (of the “going steady” sort), break ups always hurt, for sure, no matter whether on the giving or receiving end of that news. No marriage, but definitely an expectation of mutual exclusivity, which is what the break-up broke.

              • Having no expectation of sexual exclusivity does not at all mean there is no expectation of special status. I’m sure there are varying degrees of expectations within every relationship, I can’t speak for everyone, but I think my explanation of all the things that WERE exclusive between my ex and I should be explanation enough to stand up to logical scrutiny. The argument that nothing is broken because there cannot be an expectation of special status if there is no expectation of sexual exclusivity does not actually stand up to logical scrutiny. These things are not automatically hand-in-hand.

                Is it impossible to understand that two people can have an arrangement that does not include sexual exclusivity, but (for instance) DOES include exclusivity when it comes to who spends time with their children? Who they celebrate special occasions with? Who they might buy a gift for? Who they take to their favorite eatery? Who they might help to pay a bill? And any number of other things which can be construed as designating “special status?”

              • That sounds like an arrangement with a friend or a sibling or one’s child, and in those cases, too, special status ends. Friends move, siblings marry and move on, kids have families of their own, and the special things do not remain. It does seem to me that attempting to combine some kind of platonic or filial special status with a sexual relationship that involves no particular special status is contradictory and inherently unstable, yes.

              • I think that is where personality styles and personal preferences come into it. You appear to feel as though a relationship isn’t stable if it doesn’t include sexual exclusivity, while others may actually value othet things more.

      • Breaking up my relationship was meaningful to me, open or not, very meaningful. It was a big deal. Yes, we had an open relationship. Also yes that he was the only person I was married to, the only person with whom I had shared finances, the only person I wanted to wake up to in the morning, the only person I trusted fully aside from myself, the only person I wanted to call when something big happened in life (good or bad), the only person with whom I shared an extended family, the only person I spent my holidays with, the only person with whom I squealed with glee when finding the perfect Christmas gift for his amazing mom, the only person with whom I shared my fears and triumphs, the only person I went on vacation with, the only person I built a home with, the only person who loved my dogs as much as me, and on and on.

        An open or polyamorous relationship is not a fluid relationship with no boundaries. Those types of relationships have just as many boundaries (if not more so about certain things) than monogamous ones.

          • We both occasionally had sex with other people outside of our relationship. We were not sexually monogamous. It wasn’t frequent, but we did it. For me, that means an open relationship. Perhaps others may view that as actually being closed, because it did not include ongoing outside romantic relationships (polyamory)? For me, that was pretty open.

          • I respectfully disagree. Were I less jealous with better self-esteem, I could see myself sharing most of my life with one primary person but having sex with other people outside the relationship, as long as everyone knew what was going on. I would still want to go home and sleep in my bed with my partner. Again, I think there’s this misconception that everyone is screwing everyone all the time in open relationships, and I simply don’t think that’s the case. I think interests and opportunities come along to explore outside the boundaries of a traditional relationship and in an open relationship, with clear communication, the partners are free to explore those boundaries but still remain attached to the other partner, who is aware of all of it. — Could it go horribly wrong at some point? Sure. But lots of relationships go wrong, for all kinds of reasons. I think just because we can’t perceive all the nuances because it’s not something that appeals to us doesn’t make it impossible. I do think Sam’s situation is rare, but I also think her level of communication with her partner is rare, period. XH & I just drifted along like, Oh, we’re married, it’s all done then, and didn’t pay half as much attention to our relationship as it sounds like Sam & her partner have done. As I said above, I’m jealous of that level of connection and communication — *I* sure didn’t have that in my relationship!

            • (typo: “… free to explore those *interests*”, not “boundaries.” An important clarification, IMO)

      • Well, but field research is a thing. Observations matter. We know that the heart often leans towards exclusivity no matter what the body thinks it is doing, that many do not easily manage separation of heart and body, no matter their intentions and promises to try, and that this often leads to deep injury and big messes.

  • People have a right to agree to whatever they want, but it is a huge risk if you truly want to spend the rest of your life with someone. Allowing PA only or EA only has huge risks. I made the mistake of forgiving STBXs EA a number of years ago because it didn’t become a PA. It did damage the emotional strength of our own marriage, however, and opened him to intense curiosity of what it would have been like if he had made it a PA as well (which is what she had wanted). Eventually he decided to try a PA or two (didn’t ask permission because it would not have been granted) , probably never expecting to become emotionally attached until he did. There is a bigger connection between sex an emotions than most people want to recognize. They don’t connect every time, but it is always a risk and a likelihood and deliberately allowing opposite sex friends or sex buddies is playing with fire unless you really are not all that attached to your mate.

    • Granted as others have pointed out, not allowing it doesn’t stop cheaters either. On the other hand, if you don’t agree they can’t somehow pretend that you didn’t really care if they left you for somebody else because you condoned it all from the beginning.

    • I totally agree, Chumpinrecovery, I’ve developed feelings from sexual relationships in the past. It’s kept me around a lot of men I would never have stayed with if the sexual chemistry was not there.

  • I’ve never, ever, ever understood why, if two people decide they want to include others in their relationship, why choose marriage? Marriage by definition is a union between two people. You don’t want that? No problem! Agree to an open RELATIONSHIP. An “open marriage” is not a thing.

    • Perhaps for the some of the same reasons people get married now? Legal status, legal rights, inheritance rights without tax consequences, filing taxes jointly, the ability to make medical decisions if needed, rights to Social Security benefits, etc. Hey, maybe that isn’t romantic, but marriage does afford a host of legal benefits that are just not included if you are just perpetually dating.

      • But it does not seem to be the business arrangement that mostly defines “open marriages.” In cases where marriage mainly is that, openness might be the de facto reality, but it’s not generally one that is equally embraced. Instead, it’s culturally forced, or the cost of doing business for the partner in the less powerful economic or social position.

        • Not necessarily. XH & I debated whether or not to marry, and I mostly wanted to do so because of the legal ramifications should one of us fall ill. I think it’s possible for two people to genuinely care for each other in a way which falls within the standard mindsets of when monogamous people start thinking of marrying each other, but both partners know themselves well enough to recognize they might want to explore other relationships outside of the marriage in the future, so that is part of the equation from the get-go.

          I also think there’s this idea that open marriages are one nonstop orgy, and I don’t think that’s the case, either. To wit, had I been in an open marriage, I can think of perhaps only two or three situations where I might have approached XH and discussed that with him, over a course of sixteen years together. (I can’t speak for him, obviously.)

          I don’t know. It seems more fraught with landmines than I would want to take on, and I think it’s hard enough to keep two people true to their word much less the spiderweb of others who end up involved — it seems likely someone is gonna get their heart broken. But I also recognize there are people who navigate these waters more skillfully than I do, personally, so kudos to them if they can figure out how to do so.

          • I thinks reports of success are greatly exaggerated. Wanting and liking something does not equal that thing being good.

            • Well, reports of marital success period are greatly exaggerated! I certainly thought it would take something much bigger to lump my marriage in with the 50% of marriages which end in divorce!

              And of course wanting and liking something does not mean the thing is good. I’m not sure anyone here is saying that. I’m certainly not, and if it came across that way then somehow I misspoke or you misunderstood.

              • Right? Marriage is definitely broken. I don’t think that open marriages sound any less broken, so far, though!

    • For some it really is just a legal thing for various other benefits, but that isn’t really in the spirit of what marriage is supposed to represent.

      • But why? I am genuinely asking here. Is marriage defined as a long-standing sexual/romantic relationship that is exclusive? Any other marital arrangement is not real? What of marriages which don’t include sex? Are they less real? Are the partner’s feelings for one another not “enough” to make the marriage romantic if they do not have sex? Is love less if it doesn’t or cannot include sex? Can people be romantic with each other without sex? Can people be sexual without being romantic?

        Marriage is, as I understand it, a social contract and a legal arrangement.My first husband and I were together five years before tying the knot. Truth be told, we didn’t really plan on getting married ever. We were good just living together. I thought of marriage as a piece of paper. It was no big deal, it changed nothing. I still feel that way about marriage in general, actually. Then he had a mild heart attack at a young age, and reality told us we should probably go ahead and get that piece of paper so the legal protections were in place. Was our five year relationship living together before we were married a lesser relationship than if we had been married? Was our marriage based on nothing but business, considering that we were very much in love with or without the marriage certificate? What of chumps who come here who were chumped but not married? Do they have less of a right to pain?

        So many questions. I think the subject is interesting, as evidenced by me posting here today 40 gajillion times.

      • I’ve never really understood the point in marriage except as a contract if you have children. Everyone has their own way. Exasshole talked me into marrying him for all those legal reasons, then the abuse got worse, it was his endgame really. How much easier I could have gotten out if I had never let him convince me to marry him…oh well.

        • For the record, I lived with exasshole 12 years before he convinced me to marry him, completely monogamous and committed without that marriage license.

          • I married XH because we were already calling each other “husband” and “wife,” and I was really worried if something happened to one of us (like serious illness) then we might have been denied certain rights as are automatically afforded to legally married couples. (I think it was triggered by an old Hallmark movie I saw about an elderly lesbian couple, one of whom died and the other was booted out of the home they’d shared for forty years together because they weren’t married.)

    • My partner and I are two different nationalities. I have dual citizenship. If we moved anywhere else, marriage would be the only thing that could prevent us being separated from one another. I may be poly, but I don’t want live away from him, I love him and want to be able to take care of him as best I can 🙂

  • Ugh I hated this article. My partner and I have discussed polyamory and probably it wouldn’t work for us. I was polyamorous before my marriage but my partner and I are monogamous (20 years). I can’t imagine just coming home and saying take it or leave it. Ugh. Love includes respecting how your partner feels about sex/fidelity and if your relationship is based in monogamy it doesn’t change to poly unless both parties enthusiastically decide. I don’t find monogamy hard and I’m not sure why it would be for someone but maybe I’m just a stereotypical lesbian.
    One concern I have is that unfortunately in our world women are more likely to give up careers to care for children or elders. (Or just plain earn less ). This leaves women more vulnerable to pressures to accept terms of marriage they don’t want. Cheaters exploit this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were cheaters who use the open marriage idea to get away with cheating.
    That said, I do know ethical poly people. But it’s not simple once you move to sharing a home, having children. The long term poly marriages I know are anything but free wheeling.

    • Yes, this. I agree that it is often the case that one person has more power than the other. Can that truly be open, then? Power differentials have great potential to undermine the spirit of the thing.

      • I would also add that the power differential isn’t just financial, but sexual as well. To put it quite bluntly, women can get casual sex far more easily than men. Maybe that is me being politically incorrect, and maybe I am wrong, but in my experience, it is the truth. I am speaking specifically of cis-gendered hetero relationships here, because that is my wheelhouse.

        I am an attractive woman by society’s standards, and both of my husbands have objectively been attractive men. However, I can pretty much go into any room….bar, classroom, gas station, workplace, etc., and the ONLY thing I need to do in order to find a willing sexual partner is say I am looking for a willing sexual partner. Someone will take it – lol! That is absolutely not the case with the attractive men I know. So, within my own open relationship, the dynamic was such that I could have been sleeping with a different man every day if I so desired. I did not, but I could have. My husband, on the other hand…well, the stars had to be aligned in just the right way, and even then, it was a gigantic “maybe” if there would be a woman who might be okay with casually hooking up with an attached guy whom she knew up front wasn’t going to be calling her again.

        He was the one who brought up the subject of an open relationship. He could have easily also been the one who was sitting at home alone watching TV every night while I completely neglected him to sleep around with zero effort.

      • Yeah that gives me pause. I’m very suspicious of power issues after growing up observing a very unequal marriage (my parents). It would be so easy to lie to myself.

  • Truthfully, all other considerations aside, I would not want to participate in the polymory thing due to the fact that it’s always going to be an uneven playing field for the “committed ” couple.

    BT that I mean, the person just having sex or whatever with one of the partners gets to live out the role of “fantasy lover.”. Does that sound like anything else we’ve heard about?? I will give you a hint, it’s the role affair partners play, too. They haven’t seen you/your spouse at your worst, only your best. The only have to put up with you is the time that you are screwing or dating or whatever it is they do. No worries, no morning breath, no bills, no having to look at them s second longer than you want to. A real life relationship can’t compete with that. Eventually, if they find someone they like to have sex with, the heart follows the crotch.

  • I read a quote, from Charlie Sheen, maybe that Men don’t pay prostitutes for sex, they pay them to go away after sex. So, for many men, that is the ideal sexual scenario.

    I’m not going to make any negative comments about the truly Open Relationships but I think it would be a dangerous thing to do if you wanted a long term partner. Speaking for myself, I found out when I was in college, that meaningless sex is worse than no sex. I know that’s not how all people are but I don’t just see strangers and think “I want to fuck that.” I know many do but like someone said above, the forbidden becomes commonplace after a while too.

    • I think we are alike in how we view meaningless sex. In my view, an open marriage is just allowing your partner to shop for someone they like better which keeping you around as a backup in case better isn’t out there (or to eat cake if they want to keep you around for some things while getting their sex elsewhere). Of course STBX did that without the open marriage in place anyway.

    • I don’t think sex is ever meaningless, it is a joy whether you are in a committed relationship (of any kind) or not. When I’m monogamous I just don’t get turned on that way for other people, when I’m not I’ll enjoy sex without the relationship. Different strokes for different folks.

  • Funnily enough, before I was a committed monogamist I was poly for a while in my early 20s and I learned a lot from the experience. Mostly how to negotiate relationships, how to be transparent about my needs, and how to talk really honestly about sex and feelings. One of the things that turned me off to the lifestyle was, as Chump Lady points out, the time management issue. My head wanted to explode from all the constant scheduling, negotiating this person’s primary and that person’s secondary and new lovers and “new relationship energy” (which is really a threat in the poly world). Because I was young and immature, my sex and love life were also my hobbies. The main nucleus of the poly folks I knew back then are still intact! Many of them live together in ever-more complicated relationship structures that suit them all just fine. However, few have children, only one has a career of any note, there’s a kind of…slacker thing that sets in. It IS a lot of drama, there’s tons of jealousy, and some people abuse it. Honestly, the same folks that inhabit the world of monogamy. Just humans, some good, some bad. Many of whom, in my observation, simply turn to another rather than work through the problems they have with their primary partner. Which doesn’t exactly leave you with fewer problems at the end of the day.

    What eventually turned me off the lifestyle was a New Year’s party in which I walked into a room and saw my “primary” partner enjoying a sexual favor from a friend of mine. Granted, this was not off-limits, but it just reflexively made my stomach lurch. None of this made me feel the “compersion” poly folks love to talk about while seeing your love ones receive pleasure. I did not feel special, it felt seedy and gross to me, and I wanted something deeper. I wanted the deep simplicity of monogamy. One set of rules, one person to negotiate with, one person to devote myself to and be the sole object of devotion.

    Maybe it’s boring, but I need to come first, and I need to the only one, and I want to give that to someone else as well. Because life is full, and I not only have a full-time career with patients who need me, but hobbies, interests, relatives, self-care, and time to just chill. Whatever anyone says, I think it’s a normal facet of human sexuality to be attracted to, fantasize about, or even innocently crush on other people while partnered. However, the depth in monogamy, is learning to work through those urges, not just give in to them. It builds something wonderful and sustaining and strong. Humans are supposed to grow and develop, and part of brain development is weighing short-term pleasure against long-term gain. The adulting, you know. And yeah, I could have stayed in a lifestyle that allowed me to have sex with or love whomever I wanted, simultaneously, but I got out because I wanted to grow and I knew I wasn’t.

    Recently read Neil Strauss’s “The Truth,” the famous pickup artist who is now a committed, monogamous family man. I could relate to a lot of what he wrote, that many of the folks in “the lifestyle” are incredibly wounded. However, I truly wish they’d form even bigger communities and not involve those of us who do not make this choice. We all have a fundamental human right to choose our lifestyle and love style.

    • Gorgeous explanation, K! And very powerful statement about the rewards of monogamy. I’m right with you. Thanks for this!

    • There’s a ton of wisdom packed into a few paragraphs here.

      Thanks SO much for sharing K. (Only a single character and a million maturity miles away from my KK 🙂 ).

      • Thank you LMM, Sam,Marriagedetective, and Uxworld (whose posts I read often and admire). I gritted my teeth a little when I posted this, but I thought it was important to share the perspective that not all those who choose monogamy are somehow boring, reflexively rule-following, or have never tried anything else! I chose monogamy, I didn’t just default into it, and I agree with the poster below that open marriages or relationships do NOT prevent cheating, just as monogamy doesn’t cause cheating. Only ethical people prevent cheating. It is evolved to know yourself before you get into a long-term commitment, to be above board about your needs, desires, and capacities, and communicate those like an adult. Accept nothing less my fellow chumps 🙂 We’re worth it.

  • My wife and I had been active swingers for over 10 years. Due to menopause, increasingly hectic schedules, health issues, expanding waistlines and just a sense of “Been There/Done That,” we are pretty much retired from the lifestyle and I am more less an armchair swinger and Monday Morning Quarterback on issues of Consensual NonMonogamy now.

    For us, swinging worked. We did it for over ten years and no real problems arose from it.

    I do need to clarify that we were swingers and did not have an open marriage. That may seem like simply word salad and semantics but I do want to make the distinction.

    We always played together as a couple and did not meet, date have sex with or had any kind of relationship alone or without the other. It was a couple’s activity that we did as a team together.

    My perspective on this will be different from most of you, but much of what Chumplady and many of you are saying, I do agree with.

    I have seen a lot in 10 years of swinging. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

    I’ve seen some couples go down in flames. I’ve seen some flourish and thrive.

    I want to make a few points in no particular order –

    -The first and primary is Swinging/open marriage/polyamory DOES NOT PREVENT CHEATING!!!

    -Nor is it a therapy or treatment for a bad sex life or troubled marriage.

    – swing/open/poly does not prevent cheating any more than monogamy causes it.

    – Consensual Nonmonogamy in and of itself also does not lead to or cause infidelity. Lying, manipulating and coercing do. In other words, the same character flaws and bad behaviors that cause infidelity in so-called monogamous marriages, cause the same problems in open marriages.

    – simply put, a shitty person will cheat and break rules in an open marriage no less and no more than a craptard in a false-monogamous marriage.

    – and conversely, good, decent, honest people can have long-standing, happy, healthy no monogamous marriages.

    -no monogamous marriages are often more work. A monogamous marriage will have one rule when it comes to sex with others – DONT!
    A Nonmonogamous marriage may have dozens of rules and boundaries.

    – but the payoff can be huge. I have been with many beautiful and wonderful lovers and I still have a good home and family life with the most beautiful and wonderful full lover of them all -my wife!

    – and she has been with many tall, handsome, successful, sexy men who treated her like a queen. And yes many of these men have been better looking, more successful and more hung than me and yet she makes her home and life with me and cuddles up to me at night.

    The enemy of happy, healthy marriage is my experience is not sexual contact with others in and of itself. The enemies of happy, healthy, successful marriage is selfishness, entitlement, lies, deception, manipulation, coercion, abuse, neglect, abandonment and general shittiness.

    That is true whether it is an open marriage or whether it is a supposed traditional marriage.

    • Thanks for sharing all of that. I know it is difficult for some people to understand, but any relationship requires the same things to work.

    • Thanks for sharing, Oldshirt. Sounds like you’ve learned a lot from life, period. I applaud your perspective, introspection and wisdom.

    • Thank you so much for sharing! I’m in my late 20’s, my partner is in his early 30’s I really love to hear how other non-monogamous people made their relationships work through out their life…we’re still “at the beginning” so to speak. I’m so happy to hear you have enjoyed such a lovely successful partnership!

  • @ Oldshirt – Lol at “Monday Morning Quarterback on issues of Consensual NonMonogamy”

    Me, too. Let’s go ahead and Monday Morning Quarterback the hell out of this.

  • On a personal note I want to add that my wife and discussed the possibility of swinging and discussed our concerns, desires, boundaries, fantasies, limits and rules for about two years before we ever actually had sex with another couple.

    In some sort ways the journey was as fun and adventurous as the destination. But in other ways it was also terrifying and disconcerting. For a conservative, Midwest farm boy, it was very daunting to bare my soul and openly discuss my desires, fantasies and objectives as well as my fears, insecurities and concerns.

    It was also quite daunting to hear my wife’s deep inner desires and fantasies etc. it’s comforting to believe that we are our partner’s one and only desire and that we are their only source of desire and sexuality etc …… But it is a false notion and not based in any kind of reality.

    We all have kinks and desires and fantasies and yearnings.

    Our 4 basic options as married couples is –

    – suck it up and live with those yearnings and accept that at least some will never be met and that you (and your spouse) will always have a certain degree dissatisfaction.

    – seek some Strange outside of marriage without your spouses knowledge and consent, i.e. Cheat.

    – openly discuss those desires and work out a means for each to try to meet their desires together as a couple.

    – dissolve the partnership and either pursue life as a single or a life of serial monogamy with multiple partners over time.

    We choose to face those desires and work on them together as a couple.

    Yes it was scary at times.

    Yes it was uncomfortable and awkward to discuss at times.

    Yes we each experienced some degree of insecurity and jealousy at times.

    Yes we have each been with people that were better looking, younger, firmer, better hung/bigger boobs and more sexually adventurous than ourselves.

    However it was a journey that we made together and was something that we enjoyed together and reaped the benefits together. And even though it is often a cliche’ of swingers, it really did bring us closer together and made us appreciate and admire what we had in each other.

    …..and we had some of the hottest and most passionate and intimate sex with each other.

    For us, it worked.

    And finally I will say this – it was very daunting and intimidating taking our first steps into the lifestyle. I have always recognized that she may encounter someone better than me and could fall for someone else and leave me. However, she could do that just as easily and just as readily in a traditional, monogamous relationship as well. There are never any guarantees against it. She could cheat in a traditional marriage and fall for an AP just as easily as a swinging playmate.

    In the end I figured she could fall for someone else and leave me either way so I might as well go down swinging (pun intended LOL)

    We’ve been married 21 years (10+ of it swinging) and so far so good.

    Could she leave me for someone else next week? Sure. But we’ve had a great ride for the last 21 years and 10 of that has been a life that some porn stars would envy and I think she would say the same.

    • This reminds me of a rule my mother had (not sexual — don’t worry!) about my curfews as a teenager. She never imposed a curfew on me because she said, “If you want to get into trouble, the hands of the clock are not going to prevent you from doing so,” which is to say that I could just as easily smoke weed or screw classmates right after school as I could by staying out until 3am. She was right, of course, as I did both of those things (!), but the time of day was irrelevant.

      I think it’s also true of people with bad character. People who are going to lie or cheat will do so no matter what the rules and agreements are, open or monogamous.

    • Oldshirt – with the greatest respect, if you have been married 20+ years and still going strong with no issues why are you here? What led you to the chump lady website?

  • I guess I count as one of the fortunate chumps… Traitor demanded a menage a trois (he would have 2 “wives”, no extras for me…) before I knew anything about any issues…So he claims he wasn’t unfaithful. Except he demanded this menage a trois be with his “ex” whom he saw every week, whose child we had 50% of the time. So of course I know realise that this was DDay 1, this shit had been going on all along.

    I argued it with him along the lines of LOGIC that we’ve been reading about today: this shit is for people who have lots of money and nothing better to do. Even in the leisured, monied, arty classes it doesn’t work; eventually people get hurt and divorce, or there are crimes of passion/suicides of passion. I also told him that it was exactly my father’s line to my mum who was the OW, one of many. And I never saw him after I was about 18 months, not that my mother didn’t try. So the Traitor knew exactly how hurtful suggesting such a thing was to me.

    When we were dating, we had long discussions about the importance of cherishing and being cherished over passionate infatuation. He had me at “You’re a wonderful woman, I want to grow old in your arms”. I guess that was part of his love bombing. It worked on me for sure.

    So back to sad sausage Traitor and his epiphany. I told him he wasn’t nearly rich enough, talented enough, special enough to warrant a menage a trois, that this was the worst thing he could do to our relationship, and the worst person he could do it with, that I wanted us to go to counselling and I would go and get some tests at the GP since he claimed it this was all my fault for being asexual. Of course, my six miscarried pregnancies together in 5 years without any fertility treatment must have been achieved by immaculate conception…

    Traitor then manoeuvered within 10 days to leave me to babysit his child with his ex for a few days while he went to visit his other kids from first marriage. On the second day, the eldest phoned me looking for dad…who was with the ex while I was stuck here with their son. DDay2.

    My bad for not cherishing his special honest awesomeness which deserved a menage a trois. They are so splendid, the sun shines out of their arses at just the right angle to enlighten us chumps…

  • And finally, I know some of you will call me a cake-eater and entitled and that I am addicted to kibble so etc etc.

    To that I say – You are dang toot’n right I am!!!!!!

    But here’s the thing – Mrs Old gets whatever cake and kibble a she wants as well. I’ll feed her kibble a and I’ll feed her cake. If she wants to do some tall, buff, handsome, sexy dude, I’ll hit him up and arraing it myself.

    All I require is that I be there getting mine as well. If the dude has a hot wife, all I ask is that I ravage her as well.

    If she wants a single dude, it has to be an MFM with me loving her up too at the same time.

    If she wants a FMF with another chick…. Well yeah, you know what my response to that will be 😉

    If she wants to do other guys and doesn’t want me involved at all and doesn’t want to have sex with me any more – that will also be ok.
    All she would have to do is work out a 50/50 custody arraingemnt where I don’t pay any child or spousal support and sign over 50 % of the marital assets without a fuss or conflict and she can screw anyone she wants without restriction.

    • It’s your consensual relationship with your adult spouse. As long as everything is above board, then whatever you decide between yourselves is up to you, I should think.

  • Sigh. You know, there are people who read The Great Gatsby and find it romantic, and that is my basic response to this whole discussion.

    It is not about the cool flapper duds. That shit is the tragedy of selfishness.

  • I meant to comment sooner, but I’m at work when the post is published.
    Here’s my opinion, backed by science. When engaging in a sexual act, inside the brains we have a rush of chemicals. These chemicals control us. Oxytocin is the bonding chemical, it’s what mothers release when giving birth. It’s addictive and has its own expectation effect.
    I came to realise that the world with it’s old rules, actually makes sense, from a scientific point of view. The 10 commandments: they make total sense, especially from this perspective.
    Even animals mate for life. There must be something there, don’t you agree?

    And now my personal take on being in a monogamous marriage: that feeling of belonging – nothing beats it. It’s that calm that to me means happiness. And when you add kids to this, you have a family! Who would want to fuck up that?

    • I’m not a zoologist and can’t cite specific numbers or percentages but very very few species mate for life in the animal kingdom.

      In the higher primates there are some apes that live somewhat monogamish but there is a lot of supervising and force that goes into keeping their mates faithful and there is a whole lot of hanky panky that goes on when their mates aren’t watching but the researchers hidden cameras are rolling.

      The number of species that mate for life, even when their mates aren’t watching, is very rare in the animal kingdom.

      IMHO monogamy is a choice in humans that people make for the other benefits of a committed relationship. It is not a natural state of being that just occurs naturally and without effort or sacrifice.

      • Grocery shopping isn’t a natural state of being. Air conditioning isn’t either. Surgery. Clothes. Immunizations. Storm warning systems. Law. Cars. Human flight. A tiny computer in every pocket. Computers at all.

        In a totally natural state, human life is, as Hobbes put it, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” The latter was probably a blessing given the rest.

        Interesting that people often want it both ways: monogamy is unnatural, but non-monogamy is somehow highly evolved. Unlikely to be both.

        • I would say that monogamy is highly evolved. I would also say that ETHICAL non-monogamy is highly evolved. It isn’t a zero-sum thing here, with monogamish people saying monogamous people have it wrong or vice versa. Both arrangements take care, selflessness, commitment to honesty, healthy respect of boundaries/triggers, and extreme sensitivity to a partner’s feelings. Both are very much evolved. As poly-friendly people all over this thread have said over and over, all relationships require the same things.

          Oldshirt makes a wonderful point: “IMHO monogamy is a choice in humans that people make for the other benefits of a committed relationship. It is not a natural state of being that just occurs naturally and without effort or sacrifice.”

          I don’t see what is the problem with that statement. I make the choice every day to not knock my coworker flat out so I can steal her resources, even if many thousands of years ago, my ancestors might not have done the same. Base impulses being what they are, it can be argued that monogamy isn’t natural while still maintaining that honesty, respect, and trust are crucial to a healthy relationship. These ideas are not mutually exclusive.

          • Honesty, respect, and trust are great qualities, but they aren’t in and of themselves panaceas for other problems. If a partner says he or she is sexually bored and wants to bed others, that honest enough. Better than lying and sneaking. Still awfully rough news for any partner who wants and needs one commitment, though.

            And, emotions are awfully tough territory in which to attempt bargains. Lots of people who might say they want to try and open deal–and who really mean that at the time–are going to get crushed. Lots of people who promise to be faithful forever–and who really mean it at the time–are going to get crushed.

            For the most part, though, the folks here seem to be dealing with people who never really mean much of anything, and will say and do whatever they can to fulfill their wants and desires. They seem honest. They cultivate an aura of trustworthiness. They might seem respectable. All lies. That seems more the issue than anything else.

            Still, have seen an awful lot of people misled into believing honesty undoes the fault, which it seldom does. Better is the anticipation of honesty, otherwise known as a conscience. Leads us to have a whole lot fewer damaging and painful confessions to make.

            Hope that whole desire to knock people down thing is hyperbole. Why I go weeks and weeks at a time without that urge. Snort.

            • @ cashmere, I agree. I personally know that, for me, an open relationship would never have worked at all if it wasn’t negotiated very early on, before we had entanglements like enmeshed family relationships, shared mortgages, and a host of other things. When the “sunk costs” were low, in other words. We both could have opted out without too many sunk costs. I give the major Side Eye to anyone who comes into an established, monogamous relationship with a lot of history behind it and tries to change the rules farther down the road. Perhaps there are others who can navigate those waters far better than me. It isn’t for me. Begin as you mean to go on, that’s more my style.

              As for knocking my coworker out….well, only when she is quite selfishly eating the last donut. Or when she, a single 25-year old with no children says she is “tired” or “feeling fat.” 🙂

              Hyperbole, of course 🙂

              • I think an exception can be made for whip thin donut eaters who bemoan their nonexistent fat.

            • My partner and I are not sexually bored with each other. We have sex several times per week. Good sex, fun sex, intimate sex. The misperception that alternative relationships are all about sex is just that, a misperception.

              Funny thing, when I started dating again after deciding on non-monogamy for myself I was very surprised that most people I met weren’t interested in non-monogamy. I dated both men and women and across the board, most were surprised I brought it up. I brought it up right away because I wanted to go into any new relationship with all of it on the table.

              • Loving one person intimately (and sex is part of that) is such a complicated thing–requiring so much patience, focus, restraint, and intent–that adding more sounds exhausting. And pretty unfair. Everybody gets short shrift. Nobody gets depth.

            • How is dealing with raw human emotion truly different from pursuing a relationship of any kind?

              I’m not going to change your mind, I’m not trying to, but how is helping my partner while he chooses his career path and going to family dinner every week somehow negated because we have sex with other people? How is him sticking by me through difficult medical issues and supporting me through a period of unemployment diluted bc of sexy fun times elsewhere? How is me leaving work early to take care of him when he has the flu or sitting with him for hours in ER when he got hit by a car somehow skimping on depth?

              I had a monogamous relationship, he didn’t come running to take care of me when I ended up in the ER or in a week long hospital stay. He couldn’t envision a long term future for us after several years together.

              This one talks about growing old together, he shows up, he comes home every night, he doesn’t avoid my calls, he does the shopping while I do the laundry… Please explain to me, what exactly am I missing?

              OH SHIT THE LAUNDRY….

    • ‘marriage: that feeling of belonging – nothing beats it. It’s that calm that to me means happiness. And when you add kids to this you have a family! Who would want to fuck up that?’
      This made me cry. I spent last year telling idiot that this is it, our family, we do not have a close extended family. This was before I found out about the affair, it was met with blank looks.
      He can see it now he is alone, broke and has a GF in another country with little prospect of it working, she is married to someone with money.
      That’s what I felt, belonging to something. Still do but it me and my two boys who will get stronger together and he can go wander in the wilderness which is what he told me he wanted for years. He wanted to leave and be ‘his own person’ as my brother would say ‘jog on’

  • I read that recent article also and it’s rife with misguided justifications. Most of the NY Times readers’ comments to the open marriage article made much more sense. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it, CL! I’m older and have gotten around a bit. My conclusion is this arrangement rarely works .. even though I had entertained the possibility of this type of relationship when a man I was dating suggested it. That we did not come to this idea or “solution” together made it a lopsided proposal. It was absolutely CAKE on his part, of course.

    In my honest opinion, I think swinging together as a couple makes it more of an inclusive and shared lifestyle than “dating around” separately (again, this requires free and mutual desire to pursue this, good communication and way too much negotiation, having strong boundaries and utmost respect for everyone involved). But when one partner is forced – or duped – into accepting this arrangement, the whole relationship is a farce. Time to get out.

    I have true stories, too – longer than the list of examples in that NY Times article. A co-worker tried it, got her heart broken when her husband fell in love with her best friend during this open marriage experiment. She lost two people she was closest to, at the same time. I could hear the devastation in her voice even though by the time she told me about it, she had remarried and had a child with her second husband. Free and open love for everyone SOUNDS ideal, in theory. She was too young and naive to understand how the human heart really works; she did not anticipate the risk involved.

    I’m a loyal and faithful one-sexual/committed-partner-at-a-time kinda gal and I’m looking for someone who can love as tenderly and attentively as I can. I don’t have any business being with anyone who isn’t the same. Thanks, everyone, for your comments on this topic.

  • My sarcastic, yet painfully accurate advice to any wife who’s WH suggests an open marriage so as to allow him unfettered access to his Schoopie is GO FOR IT!

    Marital monogamy was devised as a way for men to keep the masses of other men from lining up to service their particular woman. In other words, monogamous marriage was invented by men to give the average man a chance to marry and have sex and father his own children AT ALL. If left to nature, women could screw any man they wanted with little to no effort.

    The open marriage deck is stacked immeasurably in favor of the female. A tall, good looking, charming, successful male would thank his lucky stars if he can find a somewhat steady, casual side piece that showers every day and doesn’t have any nasties growing down under.

    Whereas even the most unattractive, fat, unkempt, smelly woman could stick a sign that says, “Free poontang inside” in her front yard and guys would be lined up down the street waiting their turn.

    Open marriage for men is a Fool’s Game. Brad Pitt himself would not be able to match even the most common Plain Jane tit-for-tat.

    If your cheating H suggests an open marriage, go for it. He’ll watch you being fought over by better men than he, while he watches from the sidelines.

    And men, if your WW suggests open marriage, you have already lost. Cut your losses and move on.

    You ladies seem to be thinking that open marriage is your nemesis and your downfall. But the reality is, in open marriage, it is the female that yields the sword and reaps all the power.

    • Good Lord if that isn’t the biggest abomination of logic, pseudo-couched in evolutionary psych (wrongly, I might add) that I have ever read.

      Thank goodness it’s 5:00.

    • Ewww. That just sounds pervy and gross. Sorry CL&CN, I can’t listen to this. I’m not even going to pretend the poly thing seems ok to me, but adults can make their own decisions, so whatevs. Cashmere – I agree w what you’ve been saying, if there’s no exclusivity expectation, then it’s not at all the same.

      It’s REALLY hard to hear someone preaching the wonderfulness of a deal that allows fucking outside the “primary” relationship; and, how it’s all the same as ANY relationship and all is dandy fine because everyone agreed upfront. It’s hard not to be cynical, and bitchy, but it is absolutely not the same as the all-in of marriage/monogamy. Look how many of us there are who DID monogamy? Who still long for that? It’s why we cling to the Hopium pipe and sob and snot and freak the ever loving fuck out when we learn we’ve been cheated on by the person we loved and committed our lives to.

      I could only see a sort of marriage of convenience (? Or whatever the word is) working if the people coupling/marrying did NOT have any feelings for each other and it doesn’t even matter really. I don’t think you can do it if you have love/feelings for the other person.

      There’s a huge difference between a marriage document that provides some sort of legal security or is used really as just a legal contract vs a marriage vow which is a promise from your heart. The cheaters either lie at the start, never believing in the promise they’re making, or they decide later they don’t want to keep it and will just get some fucks on the side. Because, we all know, having your house and laundry and whatever other “asexual” needs met by your spouse-on-paper is pretty damn handy. ?Either way, a chump like me is left disoriented and broken in a massive pile of hot, filthy shit. I don’t care – I’m not enlightened and don’t want to be. God help me I may never sleep tonight.

      I don’t want to believe that this is what our world is coming to – where newspapers that are not titled STAR at the top are pushing the idea that cheating is normal – on the front page. Cheaters cling to that kind of horse shit and tend to recite it to us chumps while piously attempting to justify their horrific deceit and fucking around. This thread has been depressing and demoralizing for me. The thought of that cheating douchbag probably reading this and nodding to himself and making mental notes about how to “convince” me once again….blah blah blah…,is just shitty. It’s like handing him a weapon loaded with fresh mindfuckery to use on me. Ugh. Goodnight all y’all.

  • As wreckonciliation was nearing its end and I was (with hindsight) subconsciously gearing myself up to leave him, I asked him if he wanted an open marriage. His answer was that the idea did have some appeal. He later back peddled.

    What I realise about him though is he would not have wanted that either. He was (is still I imagine), so IN LOVE with the power of secrecy and mind fucking that he would have hated to give that up all in the name of “open” marriage. He LOVES being the rule breaker, the one the rules don’t apply to. An open marriage in the official sense would be just as “vanilla” to him as monogamy. For cheating mind fucks like him it’s about the “package” – the sex with strange is just a component of the package. As much as he loves strange pussy, my ex loves MORE the act of deception, manipulation; to be the “only one” who really knows what is going on. The power.

    • Totally agree with this. It would involve being honest which to these people is foreign and boring. They get a thrill out of getting one over you. Mine kept it up for a year and half before I found a little receipt in the car that busted his ass.
      Must be a sad world to live in when you get your kicks deceiving your partner and kids, it blows my mind sometimes when I think about it and his disordered calculating fucked up head.

    • cheaters don’t want open because they don’t want their spouse to have sex with anyone else, just them.

  • I am honest to goodness completely confused on how people can have a marriage this is “open” or even “swing”. When in a relationship is it appropriate to check out other people to decide try and decide if you want to have sex with them? Especially those that are ethical and have to see out others that are also in open relationships – I mean, how do you actively look for another person when you are ‘in’ a committed relationship? I completely floors me.

    Also, condoms break, birth control fails. Then what? Is sex with a different person really that important to people?

    If this is what is out there in the world, I might was well stay with my cheater 🙁

  • This reminded me of when I was with ExH#2. The last two or three years we were together, before DDay, he would suggest that I had his “permission” to either bring home another person to have sex with, or call him and let him listen as I have sex…he called it a “hall pass”.. I never agreed of course. In fact, I said to him once that it seemed that he wanted meto do this so he ciuld file for divorce and claim adultery and get custody of DD. He got pissed, but kept trying until DDay.

    Great post today, Chump.Lady, as always.

  • Quote:

    >>>Daniel, Elizabeth and Joseph requested that their middle names be used and did not want to be photographed to protect their and their children’s privacy.<<<

    This reminds me of the old saying, "If the relationship you're in has to be a secret, then you shouldn't be in it."

      • Sam: I don’t actually give a flying fuck if someone MUTUALLY has an open relationship.

        What I do object to is your coming to a blog site for survivors of infidelity, many of whom have PTSD diagnoses (or symptoms) from their ordeal, and (a) commenting on a post in which CL is lamenting a NYT article in which ONE OF THE PARTNERS IS BEING CHEATED ON and deceived, (b) mainly to plug your polyamory lifestyle, (c) without my ever remembering you coming here to HELP or support the traumatized survivors of infidelity.

        That yells “troll” to me, and I don’t know why you are still here.

        • Damn Tempest. I agree. Smacks of grooming to me. Uses cheater words like bitter, you don’t understand, all this predudice about alternative lifestyles, misperceptions,… haven’t ‘found’ anyone lately to include” FOUND!?! – big red flag… A real sophisticate smooth talker. I think Sam is fishing and looking to FIND a mark to “include” in her lifestyle. After all it’s been a while, eh, Sam. No takers?

          Hey wait a minute, it’s been three years since I threw my asshole out, Woody is that you????

          • Thank you! Reading how us chumpychumps were trying to defend someone else’s “rights” even if it was hurtful or damaging and triggery to us and has nothing to do with us really – yuck. I think you guys standing your ground finally outed a troll. Tempest can toss em now! And now I think I maybe can sleep too.

        • I agree with you fully on this one. I cannot believe some of the comments I am reading on this post. It is amazing that all these poly folks just ‘happen’ to find a world fully of poly folks to choose from and they have never, ever been involved in cheating.

          They have been asked more than once just how their relationships work, with no answer whatsoever. Simple questions like, how do you confirm the partner of the person you are having sex with 1) knows and 2) approves of them having sex outside the relationship?

          They came to the post and pushed the premise that someone can ‘love’ one person, while constantly on the lookout for better sex. The ‘oh I love my partner, but one person could never satisfy me’ thing is simply narc speak.

          • That was answered by sam above – you ask to speak to the partner. I assume everyone navigates these things differently, I can only explain how my ex and I handled our open relationship. If there was any hesitancy about access to the partner, that was a red flag that the partner was in the dark and the prospect was entirely shelved.

            I have not gotten into the practical particulars much because I am trying not to derail the thread. I also think it is only natural that some pro-poly people would show up on this website to debate this question…especially since the site links back to the original article, which is bound to be an article which generates interest from the poly/open/swing community.

            I’m happy to answer particulars.

            • Define “prospect” and “off the shelf” mean? These are terms used by sales people. This sounds very impersonal and more of a businesslike connection to me.

              I think what I am reading is sex is not a deal breaker to you as long as both parties are up front with it. It’s more of a product. Your regard for sex is pleasure and it’s okay if you or your partner seeks this same mindset in others for mutual coupling. BUT, no strings attached because you are married. I know there are several different sets of rules like a card game. So you play the game right or you are out. All this for a new fuck.

              Got it.

              I would feel like an empty vessel with the person I love if this were my lifestyle, but that is not how people who hook up for sexual purposes (maybe a few other things in common) see it.

              Got that, too. I think. I’m my very, very humble opinion it seems to be legal cheating.

              • I have hesitated to answer this, because, well, see other posts below. This has been a seriously sticky wicket on this thread, and I have found myself triggered a bit by the incredibly pompous and condescending way some of the chumps here have disdained this life choice. It feels very familiar to the way people disdain chumps.

                I want to clarify, however. I don’t think my terms of “prospect” and “shelved” were good descriptors at all. I don’t work in sales, I’m terrible at it – lol!

                I actually can’t answer this question properly, because neither myself nor my ex-husband ever “pursued” anyone to have sex with outside of our relationship, not one time. It was the other way around. We got hit on, separately, and occasionally together. Neither of us ever pursued a person outside of our relationship, which is probably why it wasn’t an endless sex-fest as so many people in this community seem to think these things are.

                As it happens, if someone did show interest, the interest was mutual, and the situation could be explained, most ran for the hills. If they did not, they could start being vetted at that point – whether they were single, what their attachments might be, what they wanted, whether it was mutually agreeable, what the particular risks or complications might be, what the “rules” might be. This would usually make anyone still standing there saying they were “cool with it” also run for the hills (people who thought it would be all party-party-no-strings-funtime would quickly realize how rigid and rule-heavy these things can be).

                Once in a dog’s age, it would all work out. People weeded themselves out for the most part.

              • Thank you for this, CJ. Succinct, and heartfelt. I couldn’t agree more.

              • I will also add, CJ, that “legal cheating” isn’t really a thing, is it? Cheating is inherently an act of dishonesty. Ethically approached non-monogamy does not include deceit, period. Which was the whole point of the original post, as I understand it. The NYT is trotting out people to be the “face” of non-monogamy, and in two examples (of three, right?), these people are NOT representative of most people who actually choose non-monogamy as a relationship choice, and are instead, low-down dirty rotten cheaters. Yuck.

                I would venture to say – gotta be careful here, I don’t want to speak for others – that is a big reason why poly people showed up here via the link-back and joined the discussion to demonstrate the NYT is wrong, this is not how these things are actually handled in any healthy relationship.

              • I’m actually a regular reader of this blog, but I haven’t been cheated on ever (I don’t count high school). When the topic was open relationships I knew I could contribute.

                I deal with cheaters more often than I would like to, but luckily no one Ive ever been intimately involved with. If somebody wants to use my relationship as a reason to bludgeon their spouse into an abusive dynamic Im going to be RIGHTEOUSLY PISSED.

                But there’s still the issue of “how do I deal with the narcs and cheaters?” That’s what I needed help with originally and more importantly “Do I tell the spouse?” This was not easy to answer at all, everyone who hadn’t been cheated on kept saying “they probably know” “it’s none of your business” “you’ll only hurt the spouse and shatter their happiness” which I always thought supremely patronizing. CL gave me an answer from people who had been through it and I’m better prepared for next time.

          • Poly people showed up to a post where the discussion was open marriages, more specifically, cheaters masquerading under the guise of an open marriage. Then actual questions were asked of us. I’m not opposed to answering questions. I answered Temperance’s comment below. I’ve been reading this blog for months, but this is the first time I could really add or comment to the topic at hand.

          • If you want answers to particular questions of “how I make my poly relationships work” I’m happy to answer and I DO answer up thread. Simply put: we do the best we can, like anyone else in any other relationship.

            • No offense to the poly world but this is not the blog for discussion on how to make plurality work for you.

              Now, if you want to talk about the lying sack of shit who brought your here…

              • Calamity: it actually wasn’t one cheater, it was four different cheaters and they weren’t MY cheaters, they were “someone else’s.”

                One was an “open couple” who were abusive to me. I was 20, as soon as their behavior became clear I never spoke to either again. I also moved across the world, so problem solved.

                The second was a guy I know in my extended social circle now who was in a monogamous relationship… With two women at the same time… He comes masquerading as a newly converted poly person to me on social media a few months later. I had gotten word of his shitty cake eating behavior and told him to shove it. I run into him a lot these days and he always scurries away with tail tucked between his legs every time he sees me or my partner. Word is he still treats women like shit, and if we know a person he starts dating, we give fair warning to them.

                The third was a young open friend who was approached by a close friends husband. She turned him down, but did not tell the wife, she’s 22, he’s mid 30’s (I’m late 20’s) and she didn’t want to “ruin her friends life.” There was a big age gap in play and some older married narc trying to take advantage of a “naive younger woman.” She didn’t fall for it because she may be young, but she’s not stupid. I didn’t push her to tell and I didn’t go the wife. This was before I found Chump Lady, and who wants to deal that blow….and have it ripple over to someone who confided to me in the first place?

                The last one I mention above: the guy with a wife and six kids who deceived a poly lady who was seeking a relationship in good faith.

                Four cheaters so far. They feel comfortable to reveal themselves to us like we won’t judge them for being shits.

                So yeah, I actually need some help in dealing with this too. I don’t need pity, or validation, I made this choice and this is part of dealing with it safely and ethically, but I don’t need to passively endure slander and just flat out WRONG perceptions of how we live. And I do need hel in figuring how to deal with when it comes up next.

                I’ve met far more honest poly people in lovely polycules, than I’ve found cheaters. Again, this blog “isn’t for me” but I hope you can appreciate how it’s relevant.

        • I can explain why I’m still here and why I’ve been reading this blog for months. I haven’t gone through the particular hell of being cheated on by a spouse of many years with whom I had a family with. There’s very little useful support I can offer beyond “I’m so sorry, that’s awful and you didn’t deserve it,” so I keep quiet and I simply read. THIS thread is about cheating disguised as ethical non-monogamy and its turned into Monogamy vs. Poly. They are not the same.

          I also don’t want to be part of deception or a tool used to hurt someone else. I don’t want to be lied to, I don’t want to be emotionally gaslighted or abused. Cheaters lurk around in poly/open communities hoping we’ll be easy marks as well, and then they lie to us about their relationship status. Being open or poly doesn’t make us immune to liars, manipulators or abusers. It makes you feel foolish to trust someone who uses your confidence and trust to humiliate and exploit you. My particular community has had married cheaters trying to pick up easy lays from honest poly people trying to start a relationship in good faith. This is not a lifestyle plug, narcs come roaming to us as well and pull out the same sparkly bullshit.

          Not one poly person on this thread about open marriages and polyamory ever condoned or justified cheating, lying, or abuse unless I missed something. Lot’s of us called out the behavior in the article for what it was, cheating and holding the relationship hostage. This is not Monogamy vs. Poly, this is honest people of all stripes who don’t deserve to be abused or treated like shit. You don’t need to ‘approve’ of my lifestyle, or think its valid, but if your ex-cheater came sniffing around my community, would you want me to tell you? Or it would it not matter coming from me because I made different choices than you?

          Instead of calling out lying, blackmailing, and cake eating its been derailed into Poly is the death of romance and we must all be involved with cheating. Some of us have been involved in cheating, because a cheater targeted us, but we’re not monogamous so it’s not so bad? Some of us are also shitty abusers masquerading as ethical non-monogamists, but how is that different from a cheater masquerading as a faithful spouse?

          Narcs target us too, and while this blog is not made for poly people specifically, its certainly not irrelevant to us. If we catch a cheater, we still have an obligation to the jilted spouse, no? THAT’S why I am here and why I came here originally. None of you here ever deserved such treatment, we don’t either and we can help each other in rooting it out.

        • Well, I’m not going to snark here, bc I respect you @Tempest far too much.

          Dat and NWB defending this “Sam” was too much for me. Not saying that I could see through her from the start, but boy did she hit a trigger for me. Ergo, my harsh words.

          It was a little hypocritical of certain people who say “be civil” when in 99.9% of the blogposts the words “fucktard” “idiot” “moron”, etc are thrown out with abandon. I used a couple of hard words for someone who has ended up being exactly what she is—a selfish person with no empathy for those of us here who HAVE experienced all of the gaslighting and blamshifting that she’s attempting to do. But it’s okay for certain people to call names at people that THEY deem worthy of those names, but not anybody else, for any reason?

          Do as I say and not as I do?

          Sam and Polytastic—fair warning—if you don’t like judgement for being even marginally irresponsible (being so open and willing to jump into the sack with someone who claims to be ‘non-monogamous’—WTF is that anyway? this made up term for “fucking around” is what I see it as) with your sexuality, that maybe someone gets hurt here and there, but eh that’s life—then don’t come here.

          The words being used by these two are—like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I’ve heard all of these arguments. They are all manipulations to get one person to accept the unacceptable.

          It’s NOT OKAY to allow kids to experience the chaos and disruption of their parents trading partners like baseball cards. Children need stability. Anybody who thinks that raising kids with a revolving door of “parental figures”—and no matter how you want to slice and dice it, kids see adults in their lives as role models—is as bad as any cheater.

          So I had some hard words. Not sorry. Sam showed herself, and it didn’t take long. What’s sad is that longtime posters like NWB and Dat, even though I “understand” conceptually that what you’re saying is ‘live and let live’—you are in the company of those who have borne the brunt of liars and manipulators, no matter how “honestly” they CLAIM to want to live their lives.

          I heard “I just want to be free to be who I am, and you wouldn’t understand it!” Wouldn’t that be a case of “live and let live”? How many of us had our cheater come to us and say….”but this is who I am and I am being true to myself!”

          If this is the case, where life should just be a constant “Meh! Live and let live!” Nobody here should have a problem with their cheaters, right? They’re just being true to their nature. We all should just shrug our shoulders and let them be who they are! Who cares, right?! So what! They’re being true to their cheater nature!

          Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

          • GlassHalfFull–I didn’t delete your post with names in it (for one, your insults were conditional, in an If.., then… statement ; ). I deleted a post where a name was leveled at one of our own valued members of the community.

            Swear away.

              • You know I’m always trying to coax you out of your shell, CalamityJ.

                I am not riled by insults being leveled at cheaters, APs, cheater apologists, Switzerland Friends, bad judges, bad lawyers–people who have earned opprobrium from their behavior. My objection was name-calling another person in CN because they disagreed. No chump-on-chump violence.

            • @Tempest, I re-read what I wrote.

              I wasn’t saying “you” as in Sam or the OP. It was a figurative “you”.

              Sorry if I was misunderstood. I meant….If “you” fit this criteria, then “you” to me, are a cheater.

              I wasn’t leveling anything at anyone.

              I appreciate you, Tempest. You’re (and I mean this literally!) one of the most level headed here. I get mouthy and so pissy that I don’t stop and read what I write.

              Imma snark, and I admit that freely. This subject is really….so awful to me. I grew up with my mother and her revolving boyfriends in our house. I listened to my ex try to push this shit on me and my kids. Although I understand about polyamory, because I’m not stupid—the bottom line with that lifestyle is that there is a baseline selfishness and “me factor” to it that is inherent. It’s a given.

              I never, ever, EVER said that if there was an open, honest discussion (please read what I said originally and put the figurative connotation to it. it will clear a bit of this up)–that the partner in this situation “can’t be chumped”.

              What I SAID was that if you can answer one simple question for me, in the presence of your SO and any other interested parties….”Do each of you know exactly what and who your partner has been doing” and there is any other answer other than YES….then you’re a cheater (in the figurative. “you’re” a cheater.)

              I see where the misunderstanding came in. This is a very very emotional and volatile subject, for the very reason that cheaters have co-opted the narrative of polyamory to fit their agenda.

              I feel sorry for anyone who is truly in a committed poly/open/swing relationship that their “honest” partner dupes them….because of all of the freedoms and liberties that this “honest” partner was given….yet it still was NEVER ENOUGH.

              How humiliating would that be. I can’t imagine.

              So I apologize to you, Tempest and to anyone else if you (again, the figurative “you”) thought I was leveling anything at “you” directly. I wasn’t.

              NWB and Dat–you two are longtime mentors around here. I rarely disagree with one of you because of the loyalty and protectiveness of some here—but I disagree with both of you on this.

              NWB, I was reading your posts and they were sort of—back and forth. Kinda all over the place with how you really feel about this. It confused me and I was a little stung by how readily you jumped onto Sam and Poly’s wagon when it was clear that they are triggering people.

              Dat, I think I argued with you once before, a very long time ago. I appreciate your point of view, but call me provincial or puritan or whatever you’d like… don’t get to make the implication that I am less of a person because I am not free-wheeling and fun-loving and anything goes/nothing matters open minded. I’m not. And I admit I’m not. And it works for me. I have plenty of fun and plenty of friends and my family loves how I am—the only person who did NOT love me for the person I am is the cheater who wanted all of the “free wheeling, fun loving, anything goes/nothing matters” don’t judge me because I’m a free spirit.

              In my book if I’m not fun enough for someone or I’m not open minded enough—then there are 7 billion others that “you” can choose from to be in a relationship with.

              I stand by my original comments, but I am clarifying them. They were not directed AT anyone. I apologize if the words were taken in that context.

              • Thank you for taking the time to clarify. I know you didn’t do it for my sake ( I can imagine “what you must think of me”).

                I tried to word myself very carefully as to NOT trigger anyone and Sam triggered someone by accident. I think Old Shirt triggered people, especially in his later comments. I don’t agree with the views he expressed later on, but I’m happy to hear swinging worked for him and his wife in the long term.

                I don’t need to share the dirty details of my sex life: and besides the direct questions of how do I mitigate risks of STDs and sharing that yes I have more than one sexual relationship, going further into detail is unseemly.

                I can understand how my lifestyle and relationship choices were used to bludgeon and abuse people here. The point I’ve tried to make is that the lines used to manipulate, shame, and guilt you are not my lifestyle AT ALL and infuriates me that people portray it that way.

                I’ve tried to go out of my way to clarify every scrutinized sentence of mine and it’s all here on the thread if you want to double check, point out any holes I left, and if I used triggering language to point it out so I’m more aware next time.

                I already realized that the phrase “you just don’t understand” massively triggered someone and I clarify it elsewhere. I’m not here to “convert” you or preach the poly gospel, I’m not here to troll or trigger, but I’m not going to passively accept disparaging, abusive language either. I more than over posted why I have a legitimate interest in this blog and why it’s particularly relevant for me, despite never being cheated on.

                I wish you nothing but happiness going forward.

            • @Tempest. You’re a nerd and i like you. If-then statement. Memories of computer punch cards and TRS-80s. Yeah I’m dating myself.

          • Well Glasshalffull: I’m not seeking approval for my lifestyle. I think I answered mostly comprehensively just a few posts up thread. Whether you it think poly/open is “possible” or “workable in the long term” is not the point. The community, as a whole, makes a point being as honest and upfront with our choices when getting involved with someone new. Whether you think I just jump in the sack with anyone I first meet is also besides the point.

            What riles me is the idea that we’re all self-aggrandizing cheaters so what happens to us doesn’t matter. The idea that we can’t be lied to or abused, so it’s okay for the same people who use your committed monogamy against you to exploit our honest commitments to safe and ethical poly against us, is infuriating.

            Someone can say that they’re in an open relationship, by contrast they can also just say they’re single, like what happens unwilling and deceived affair partners. Why is it ok for me to be lied to, gaslighted and abused because I made an above board commitment to a relationship model I’m happy in? I go lied to once about an open relationship when I was 20, I fixed my picker and demand to meet the other partner. This doesn’t help when the cheater presents himself as single and has separate social media altogether, go figure.

            I also deserve honesty, respect, and trust in my relationships. I do not deserve to be abused, and YOUR cheaters presenting as faithful spouses comes to my community and present themselves as ethical non-monogamists. They lie to both of us. Neither of us need to take it.

            • I think it’s bizarre that you capitalized the word YOUR in this last paragraph, almost as if you are BLAMING chumps for their asshole cheaters infiltrating your community. I have no problem with the concept of open relationships, except for my underlying misgivings about trusting anyone, no matter what they say about their intentions at the beginning of a relationship. But it bothers me that when I asked above, I think it was you but it might have been Sam, whether you notified the cheater’s spouse, when a guy showed up at your Poly part with a date who you knew wasn’t his wife. You stated you ‘blacklisted’ this person. In my opinion this is no different from my complaint about the NYT article that presented these wonderful open marriages, where Eliz Daniel and Joey could all be with each other but not one of them had the human decency to notify Joe’s wife. I think 100% of us chumps would have like to be told, so that we too, could have the choice to be monagamous with a cheating liar or not.

              • That guy at the poly party was my story. I had no idea he was married at the time…. And here’s the kicker: neither did his date.

                None of us knew he had a wife and six kids. I also barely spoke to him and can’t remember him, but I remember how angry the date was when she found out. And she learned by experience that she needs to vet her suitors better, but I certainly don’t blame her that HE lied to her.

                I don’t vet every single poly or open person I speak to or meet. I vet people I’m considering becoming involved with. Showing up somewhere with a date or a partner who is not your spouse is not shocking or cause for concern with us.

                If your question is then: “How could she (or I) not know?” My understanding is that this shitty question gets lobbed at chumps all the time “How could you not know?”

                My point in capitalizing YOUR is that the cheaters who took you for a ride, who you lived with, married, slept next to, had children with….could fool you for YEARS. Why is it difficult to conceive that they can do it us too? These assholes who cheat on you and come slumming to us for easy sex are often the same people, and they are just as concerned about our health and well-being as they were for yours. At a certain point you just need to decide to trust someone or not and despite your best efforts, you can be dead wrong.

                You can see my post up thread about the FOUR cheaters that eventually led me here.

                Do we deserve abuse? or is it easier to think we either accept cheating carte blanch or turn a blind eye and “choose not to see it.” Thats exactly how I see it framed regarding chumps: that people being cheating on “choose not to see it” or “know deep down”… is it not possible for poly/open people to be cheated on, or does it simply matter less for us? We weren’t discerning enough picking out partners before getting involved just like you weren’t discerning enough in the person you chose to marry?

                I blame chumps for being cheated on as much as I blame that woman who found out her date was married…, not at all.

  • I also found it interesting how Ms. Dominus (Pseudonymus LOLZ?) carefully cherrypicked her stories to show the WOMEN as the ones having the time of their lives being “consensually non-monogamous” and the men not as much.

    I suppose she schemed it this way because she figured women are the ones who are mainly in the way of this movement, so she could swindle us with stories of how hot it is for women.

    She really is on a campaign to normalize this as part of being married. Too bad some of her subjects want their names or faces associated with it.

    She’s even a liar herself, not on board with the philosophy she pushes:

    >>>Then I called my husband and told him, when he asked about my evening, that I had dined with a group of three or four conference attendees.<<<

  • My first boyfriend wanted an “open relationship.” It had become clear to us both that we weren’t compatible in the long run — so instead of the pain of a breakup, his idea was that we’d “hang out” with each other but “date other people.” I thought it was a terrible idea but loneliness wore me down and I was young and stupid so I eventually agreed to try it. Then I found another guy,