More Sex with More People: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Open Relationships.

Via on Sep 9, 2010

Bonus, via The Onion: “Open Relationship Gives Couple Freedom To Emotionally Drain Other People From Time To Time

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In what way does being intimate with multiple people interfere with our personal daily functioning?

Update: How More Sex with More People was Good, then Bad, then Ugly.

Throughout working on my Master’s in Women and Gender Studies I’ve had conflicting issues with the basis of monogamy, specifically marriage and all of its patriarchal glory.

If even close to 50% of marriages end in divorce, why are people still getting married?

If one of the root causes of divorce is infidelity, why aren’t we working on concepts outside of monogamy?

Lately I’ve been exploring ideas of what it would be like to have an open relationship. Mainly I’ve been debating the good and bad of polyamory—poly meaning more than one; amory meaning love—together, meaning to love more than one at a time.

Because I live mostly in a theoretical world in which polyamory and open relationships work on paper, I thought I’d go through what makes me hesitant and excited about opening up my existent four-year (and counting) relationship and what it would be like to give this outside-the-norm style of love a try.

More Sex

The Good—Ahhh…More Sex.

Whether with one or more partners sex can benefit people in multiple ways, including stress relief, cardiovascular health, better sleep, and perhaps even enlightenment, just to name a few. Also, sexual exploration can help with a lack of stagnation; as most people who have been in long-term relationships can attest, we all go through peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows.

The Bad—Time.

Having sex all the time really puts a damper on doing much of anything else. If I chose to open my relationship and I met new, interesting people who I wanted to spend time with, well, I’d have to own a pretty badass planner to fit everyone in. And right now, it seems difficult to have enough time for just one other person.

The Ugly—Slutopia and STD’s.

The majority of our population doesn’t really find non-monogamy appropriate no matter its label (open relationship, polyamory, etc.) these people generally seem to think that those who are open are promiscuous amoral sluts with STDs. But, there is a right way to be a proper ethical slut, (and even a guide book for those who want more info); part of it includes always using protection and not screwing every person you meet. People who are out doing everyone without protection have low self-esteem and a death wish.

The other problem I could encounter is that some monogamous people may look at me as a threat—a loose cannon who could blow up their existing relationship by trying to get closer to one of them. I am not a sex tornado, I respect other people’s limits and choices, so I find this concept quite frustrating as no one person is attracted to every other person in existence.

We all have our standards. I for one am not generally attracted to the mountain dew drinker, the renaissance fair attendee, the anime watcher, or the peace-pipe smoking hippie but those types seem to be the majority of poly-people who have “come out;” that, or they’re old. I guess if I do it I’ll need to start looking harder.

More People

The Good—More Fulfilling Relationships Overall.

Sometimes when people are in relationships they will put a barrier around said relationship so as to not cross over the intimacy line with other people. This can cause an inability to make more fulfilling longer lasting friendships (or more-than friendships) due to the fact that one person in a monogamous relationship doesn’t want to hurt the other by connecting closely to someone else.

The most exciting part of the polyamory concept to me is the ability to have no fear when meeting new people. I can go for it completely. I can get as deep with another as I want without feeling I am crossing over into the “danger zone.” Partly it’s because I’m already with someone, and thus in a way, I always have backup in case of rejection and I always have a support system if something (or someone) becomes dysfunctional.

The Bad—Jealousy.

I’ve always been the sort of narcissistic egomaniac that finds it okay for me to do something, but completely ridiculous and rude if someone else does the same thing, for example I can flirt, but my boyfriend better not. And here in lies the major problem. However, I am working on getting past that—as jealousy is not an innate reaction to a lover loving someone else but is more of a socially developed dilemma. I was reading an autobiography of the beat poet Diane De Prima and in it she told the story of her girlfriend coming home late, crying profusely, and confessing her “sin” of cheating. De Prima was confused. She said she didn’t understand why she should be upset that someone she loved shared an intimate moment with someone else; it in no way hurt her. Something about that story really clicked with me. In what way does being intimate with multiple people interfere with our personal daily functioning?

The Ugly—Loneliness.

How can a person be alone in a non-monogamous polyamorous open relationship? Well, probably pretty easily if one’s partner goes on a date with someone else and leaves said person to fend for herself for the night. The book The Ethical Slut lists plenty of things one can do to “treat” oneself.

It also suggests we make lists such as 10 ways to be Kind to Yourself and 15 Reasons He’s Lucky/15 Reasons You’re Lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I love making lists, but am I really going to remember to read my list when the dreaded loneliness starts looming? Or am I going to reach for a bottle of wine and pour my soul into an existential crisis where I question every decision I’ve ever made? And that is where it gets ugly. No one wants to go there. That is where egotistical narcissism would come in handy, or at least some high self-esteem and a bit more confidence than the average bear.

More Rules

The Good—Better Communication.

The best suited people for any arrangement of non-monogamy are Type A’s, who love planning and scheduling and being on top of it all. Because that’s what it takes. It seems like participating in this type of relationship would improve communication skills because people would first need to set boundaries and discuss what they want in relationships in general and specifically. And they would need to be completely honest at all times in regards to everyone’s boundaries.

If, for example, I didn’t want other people in my bed, there better never be anyone else in my bed. If he wanted me to give 24 hour warning I better give a day’s warning. Monogamous couples don’t have as many rules, basically, don’t touch anyone else in any way (mentally, spiritually, physically etc.) and it will be fine. I’m not sure if that is the best way to have a relationship for every person on the planet.

The Bad— Breaking the Rules.

Obviously humans are not perfect and though we all try to abide by our own ethical standards sometimes we slip. When this happens it can be emotionally painful both for the person admitting they broke the rules and for the person hearing the news. We are adults and we need to be responsible for our own actions and reactions. Some situations can be forgiven and some just may not be, that is all dependent on individual standards. I personally, do not know how forgiving I can be but at the same time I don’t want to find out.

The Ugly— Breaking Up.

An observation I’ve noticed about married couples is that they often don’t talk to each other, about anything. There is a security in knowing that the other one is always going to come home, but there is also a monotonousness to it that seems utterly depressing.  What appears to be missing over time, when the bore begins to occur, is a deeper understanding of oneself through the connection with another human being—a cut off, an invisibility, a routine with no positivity.

The worst thing that could happen if we decided to try out this whole polyamory thing is that we’d break up and move on—but it seems like a worthy risk. One that could lead to a more fulfilling life overall. Or one that could at least give me a good story to write about when I’m 50 and reflecting on my youthful ideology, my idealism, my inability to conform to the conventional relationship standards of our day.

I will never know unless I try and I still cannot decide…

[Update: Read How More Sex with More People was Good, then Bad, then Ugly.]


About Krystal Baugher

Krystal Baugher lives in Denver. She earned her MA in Writing and Publishing and her MA in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University/Chicago. She is the creator of Mile High Mating, a website dedicated to helping people "do it" in Denver and beyond. You can find her on facebook and twitter (as long as you aren’t a stalker).

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112 Responses to “More Sex with More People: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Open Relationships.”

  1. Melanie says:

    Krystal,

    You raise really pertinent questions. I so appreciate your sharp yet down-to-earth approach to the question of polyamory – the more discussion and education the better! I commend you for challenging the taboo.

    Love,
    Melanie

  2. April says:

    The idea that monogamy is the only way to go – to me, is archaic and culturally pushed for no reason other than it has become "tradition". I own the book The Ethical Slut and I know people who are totally successfully engaged in polyamory (and have been for around 20 years now). I guess to some they would be the unicorn.

    You say that participating in an open relationship would improve communication skills, but I think the highest level of communication skills is a pre-requisite. My husband and I have had long frank discussions about polyamory because we CAN talk about anything and not get offended. Some people would break up simply because someone else said the word "polyamory" because they lack that basic skill of communication.

    When my husband brags to his friends that he could totally have sex with other people – and they think that's sooo cool – he has to remind them of what has kept him from actually doing so. The thing about getting to have sex with other people is that the other person gets to have sex with other people too. It's a sobering reminder to all those people that aren't actually ready to have a mature open relationship.

    • liz says:

      bingo. i've definitely found that lots of people are fine with the prospect of poly until their partner finds someone to have sex with, or date, or love, etc…

  3. Hardin Reddy says:

    " I was reading an autobiography of the beat poet Diane De Prima and in it she told the story of her girlfriend coming home late, crying profusely, and confessing her “sin” of cheating. De Prima was confused. She said she didn’t understand why she should be upset that someone she loved shared an intimate moment with someone else ; it in no way hurt her. Something about that story really clicked with me. In what way does being intimate with multiple people interfere with our personal daily functioning?"

    I wish everyone had this perspective!

    • liz says:

      me too! :) opening up to your loved ones sharing their love really gives you a new perspective on lots of things (your loved ones, their loved ones, yourself…).

  4. Martin says:

    Only time will tell the results of your choices. It all sounds so good in the moment. I wish you and your partners the best. Enjoy your youth.

    • liz says:

      wow, i'm not sure if this was designed to sound condescending, but it definitely comes across that way.

    • Mike O'Brien says:

      Liz, the article itself makes this point: “We all have our standards. I for one am not generally attracted to the mountain dew drinker, the renaissance fair attendee, the anime watcher, or the peace-pipe smoking hippie but those types seem to be the majority of poly-people who have “come out;” that, or they’re old.” As an older person, I hear her saying this is something for the young, and I hear “enjoy your youth” as meaning “while you have it, because when you’re older you won’t be sexually attractive”.

  5. Inferno says:

    That was very well written and thought out. You are searching in a very healthy manner. Jealousy however is not healthy and I don't think natural either. i think it is a learned thing that can be un-learned.
    Once you get rid of that… the world is a different place.

    Still, polyamory and open relationships (two different things) are not for all people. Some just are not wired that way.
    I wish you luck in your journey.

    • Neiva says:

      i wish i learn not to get jealous, but thru that journey of learning, i discovered that i need to learn building self confident and learn to be more open minded before i can learn overcoming jealousy.
      it's still a struggle to me.

      • Joyce says:

        I applaud your desire to look at your confidence issues as a way to deal with jealously. However, I hope you are being kind to yourself during your process. I'm not sure if you're in a relationship and if it is a monogamous one or poly but my point is, being in a relationship where your jealously is constantly triggered in harsh and hurtful ways isn't necessarily the most nurturing and kind environment to be in while working on your insecurity/confidence/jealously issues. Imagine working on those issues with a partner or an environment where your insecurity is treated with kindness and you are supported through your process. To me, I would find it very difficult to work on an insecurity/jealously issue in a poly relationship. I think it would be very intense and difficult and working on personal growth issues is difficult enough. No?

  6. Nikki G says:

    Beautiful article…a question I have battled with myself.

    “What appears to be missing over time, when the bore begins to occur, is a deeper understanding of oneself through the connection with another human being—a cut off, an invisibility, a routine with no positivity.”

    Have you considered that a deeper understanding of oneself may come from a connection to yourself rather than another human being? I love connecting with other people, but my most favorite connection is the one I have with myself.

  7. Andrie says:

    "An observation I’ve noticed about married couples is that they often don’t talk to each other, about anything. There is a security in knowing that the other one is always going to come home, but there is also a monotonousness to it that seems utterly depressing. What appears to be missing over time, when the bore begins to occur, is a deeper understanding of oneself through the connection with another human being—a cut off, an invisibility, a routine with no positivity."

    I can't speak about what happens with other married couples, but one of the things that has kept my marriage alive and dynamic (as well as occasionally scary) is that we don't take our partnership for granted. My husband and I both want to our relationship to go the distance, but not not at the cost of growth and change. With growth and change come renegotiation and some insecurity. Polyamory and open relationships force couple to confront these issues. This is not to say that non-monogamy is the only way to keep a relationship from the trap of comfortable monotony – it is not! It is, however, difficult to have a non-monogamous relationship that doesn't rock the boat in some way.

  8. Daniel says:

    Who has not considered the notion of endless sexual partners. It has been tried throughout history. Oneida the silverware company started out as a free love commune.

    I have been married 5 years now and our sexual relationship has changed over time. At first, it was all about the newness and the biological passion. Overtime, the newness wears off and the passion gets satiated. It sometime seems sex is a holistically healthy activity akin to running or yoga. Not my kind of sex.

    I have always thought that sex should be dirty. I am not into whips or chains or fantasy play but there must be some spice to make it really nice. So, aside from destroying my home life and being banned from seeing my children, what reasons are there not to stray?

    Of course, being monogamous means not having to worry about AIDS or hepatitis or gonorrhea or syphalus or anything else that might be floating around. A preferred method of contraception means I haven't worn a condom in years and find that deeply gratifying. Then there is the waking up with the someone from last night that was 'oh so hot, smart or funny' now being none of those things. Or the possibility that the one you are presently in bed with is not a polyamorist and wants a relationship (much to the chagrin of your regular lover). And last but not least, every casual lovers worst nightmare, "I'm pregnant".

    But none of those reasons are why I don't stray. I keep my bed because I find the best opportunity to fulfill my sexual fantasies are with the one I am with. Great sex is not an every night occurance. It must be worked on and planned. How do I get my wife to put on and wear that slutty outfit I bought her? How do I get her to let me secretly kiss her privates at the next party we go to? How do I talk her into…, well, you get the picture.

  9. anon says:

    ummmmmmmm I hope you've considered the fact that several STD's, such as herpes and HPV, are potentially able to be transmitted even with proper condom use, because of the fact that those types of lesions can occur outside of the area covered by a condom. and herpes can be transmitted even when outbreaks are not visible. I was unlucky enough to get into a committed relationship with a very wonderful man shortly after he ended an open relationship with an unethical slut. they used condoms every time. she was his only partner, even though he knew (and was okay with) the fact that he was not her only partner. guess who has herpes now? all three of us.

    I love your take on the emotional issues, such as the impact of infidelity, jealousy, whether monogamy is an archaic and now-unnecessary concept, and find your perspective both fascinating and refreshing. however, I do not think in the future I will be able to ever get on board with the potential physical and emotional impacts associated with being responsible for giving someone a permanent STD, and I really wish you would have treaded a little less lightly with regard to this topic. condoms are not the foolproof method that many seem to think they are.

    • Tilley says:

      Yeah, but this is an issue that applies to all casual sex, not just nonmonogamous relationships.

    • Darci says:

      I appreciate your look on this. I personally loved the article, and I do agree with the reply that this applies to all casual sex weather its monogamous or not.

      But to add to the discussion, I believe STI's are a risk in both casual sex and non casual sex. Not all open relationships are limited to one committed parter, and everyone else casual. I have some friends who chose to have two committed partners at once, which is great. I ended up getting an STI from a monogamous committed partner, so regardless of what kind of relationship it is, sex comes with a responsibility — and STI's are definitely important to consider when opening up a relationship. Would I want to give something to my partner? Would I want my partner to give something to me? How would we combat this – would we get check ups after every sexual encounter? If I got an STI and my partner did not, how would this effect our relationship? Etc etc.

      My take is always…if its meant to be it will work out…but sometimes the actions we choose play a huge role in weather something is meant to work out or not.

  10. AMO says:

    As a relationship professional one of the things I find is that people in monogamous relationships tend to cut themselves off from part of themselves, not just from other people. The parts of you that must be subjugated to be married, The Flirt, The Sexual Being (exception: 20-30 minutes 1-3 times per week behind the bedroom door if you're lucky), The Explorer, The Conqueror, The Top/Bottom (whichever role you don't play with your partner) and so many more. When people who've been married for many years come to me for help finding a new partner they often have to relearn how to be a wo/man before they can even date. They cut themselves off from so much of that when they needed to be safe in their marriages.

    How wonderful it is when you can explore outside of your relationship with ALL the parts of yourself, and how wonderful it is to come back to the relationship with your whole self reinvented every day…

    • liz says:

      beautiful! i love it…it's one of the things i love most about having multiple relationships: rediscovering (and falling back in love with) a partner whose heart and mind are wide open from an experience with someone else they care about. :)

    • Ivo says:

      Thank you, well said, and said by an expert no less.

    • Mrs.EW says:

      Well said, I just wanted to second your opinion. I am also a relationship professional & I have seen this as well. The most successful marriages/partnerships are the ones where each person is exploring themselves and the world side-by-side with their partner who is doing the same thing. With love, compassion and stellar communication – this can be one heck of juicy fulfilling way to travel through life.
      That being said, there are millions of ways to do this, and not every open or polygamous relationship works. I coach traditional as well as open marriages. The quality of the marriage/partnership is never about the sex (or any other outside circumstance) it always rests in each partners ability to explore themselves, love themselves, and make choices that aren’t based on fear, assumptions, interpretations, or limiting beliefs.
      Sex, open or not, is just one piece of the puzzle to create an extraordinary marriage/partnership.

    • Joyce says:

      I find this odd advice for someone who is a relationship professional.

      I think people who leave a relationship because it isn't fulfilling are missing out on an incredible opportunity to become fully self-actualized. Leaving a relationship, in my opinion, is a cop out. When someone believes another person or another relationship or another experience is "going to make them happy" they inevitably find themselves having to face the same issues that were problematic in the initial relationship. So, what they didn't deal with or face in the initial relationship, they will ultimately have to deal with in a subsequent one (or not).

      However, I will add that not every relationship has the capability to help you become self-actualized because in order to do so both people need to be mature enough and capable enough to deal with their personal wounds and the issues that get in the way of cultivating deep intimacy and trust.

      So, rather than suggesting people explore experiences outside their relationship, wouldn't it be far more personally gratifying, challenging and fulfilling if that person pushed themselves to become fully self-actualized within their current relationship? Imagine teaching someone how to overcome all the barriers that have prevented them from connecting deeply and intimately in their current relationship. Imagine how rewarding it would be to help someone overcome all of their personal challenges within the relationship instead of encouraging them to leave the relationship? What a sense of accomplishment they would have going through hell and back with one person and achieving all they dreamed of.

      People are so quick to leave a relationship because it is un-fulfilling and in doing so, they miss out on an incredible opportunity.

  11. Jay Winston Jay Winston says:

    I’ve seen an interesting trend when friends of mine have tried open marriages: it’s been the man’s icea to be “open,” and the man’s idea to stop being “open” when he realized how much easier it was for her to get men than for him to get women….

  12. Estes says:

    See you on Maury! Who the baby daddy is?

  13. Amy L. Neill says:

    Well written, but in reading I am certain: I'm definitely not wired for this. If my body parts and your body parts cease to entice… if me and my mate can't find a thing to talk about, then maybe we're just done? Of course, that would make me a classic serial monogamist. I can live with that. Let me focus on one deep meaningful love affair at a time, thank you. Let me continue to believe that my best friend is out there, wondering where the hell I've been all his life! For some of us, the ideal is enough. Food for thought and fuel for life. What if– my somebody is searching for me just as I am? Here's the thing: I don't bore easily. I don't need the stimulation of everyone all at once. I am capable of being alone, and I am grateful for those who I have loved individually along the way. I don't believe I could have connected as deeply if there had been background noise, options, complicated rules in order to function fairly. To love just one someone should be my pleasure, and has been, right up until it's not– and that's whenx it's time to let go. Give me the highs and lows! Let my heart skip a beat and break to pieces at any given moment. I don't want to have my cake and eat it too. I want to choose, dive in, and risk it all, because oh how sweet it is, when it "just is".

    • Hilary says:

      love this. I totally agree with you.

    • Diana says:

      I agree with you as well–I feel like the romantic love I have for my partner currently is so fulfilling that there simply isn't any room left to add someone else to the mix. I think that monogamy/serial monogamy/polyamory need to be looked at in the same way as straight/bi/gay–they all exist in the world, so to judge any one of them negatively is to say that only one way is right, when in fact, every person is so different, with different preferences. Live and let live, love and let love.

  14. renaisscientist says:

    More sex with more people means more opportunities for protection to fail… Is conception/pregnancy a boundary or rule in polyamourous relationships? Are the consequences of pregnancy significantly different for poly women/mothers? Do all members in a poly family share the responsibilities of child-rearing? Do adult children of poly parents have happy memories of childhood?

    • Love says:

      You summed up everything that's important to an individual's well-being! Health, Sense of Belongingness to oneself and to significant others, Well-being of Child from Conception. While it's mentally exhilarating to intelligently discuss our "ideals", it is by no means a match to dealing with reality :

      1. More pursuit of physically risky behavior leads to more chances of lifelong illhealth.

      2. Less emotional risks in polyamory="back oven" system. If everyone is a back oven, Who do you belong to? when you don't even belong to yourself since knowing one's self takes time being with yourself and not with every other person you're "emotionally feel connected" to.
      The emotional risk involved in monogamous relationships is a threat to security and confidence, that's why it's only for the brave. But pure monogamous love also rewards the greatest gifts of the same.

      3. Distracted mothering to the child one chooses to bear –> babies sense anxiety and instability and lack of belongingness from the womb. No woman is a perfect divine woman who will never go through much emotional turbulence while not knowing who's DNA is in her child. Yeah, a mother can meditate to nirvana all through the infancy and toddlerhood of a child, tell us about it…
      Monogamous single mothers who were left by their cheating boyfriends are even much better off, I think, since they know what to tell their kids and themselves. Especially when they start dating "suspect siblings" they may or may not know about but may possibly be too polyamorous to listen to anxious mom.

      Does this all look like these are great paths to self-fulfilment? Am I always creating a great debate within myself through this whole thing? Am I always seeking "idealogies and theories" to pacify and justify my restless soul? Is this counter-intuitive to my spiritual quest if I'm polyamorous, "ethical", of course? Am I at peace knowing I am hurting some people involved in polyamory? Am I at peace knowing I'm potentially spreading diseases?

      No. Yes. Yes. Maybe. No. No.

  15. [...] to a book called The Ethical Slut , which I haven’t read.  Also, as I was writing this a new post on ElephantJournal.com about polyamory appeared.), but I agree with Warner that there is almost something instinctual about jealousy – [...]

  16. Robert Allen says:

    A great article with many salient points. Thanks for writing it! I think is a great read for both non-polyamorous and actively polyamorous folks, without threatening monogamous people with your ideas and POV. Good stuff.

  17. zuko says:

    Much Gratitude for sharing these insights… I feel more comfortable now exploring with an educated approach. <3

  18. YogiOne says:

    Lets all get drunk and go nekkid,
    Lets all get drunk and go nekkid,
    Lets all get drunk and go nekkid,
    and lie in a great big pile!
    - The Fabulous Furry Freak Bros.

  19. Tessa @lena_fm says:

    This is the most intelligent article on polyamory I've ever read. I just reposted on my Twitter, I am really delighted that you wrote about it so honestly and without fluffy propaganda either way.

  20. Joyous Living says:

    I hear ya' sister…I remember this journey…I even did the polyamory style relationship on two different occasions and then I realized something …you can be "intimate" without sex…I have deep meaningful relationships with my family and we aren't sexual so why does it have to be so with others?
    and now that I have come out of that I am re-married (also not my first ride at that rodeo) and here is what I have discovered…It will take me about 20 years or so to truly know this man…so how can I spread myself thin with someone else on that deep a level? to me it's about going so deep that you don't need that particular type of relationship elsewhere, and here is how we keep from getting stagnant. One: we are still individuals; Ie: today he is with the guys watching footbal while I am partaking in a few yoga classes and some much needed ME time. TWO: we do things together that help us grown spirtually; IE we do partner yoga and meditation together. (cont'd)

    • ARCreated says:

      THREE: we are not afraid of publically displaying our affection FOUR: we set goals individually and together FIVE: we say "I love you" everyday, and we make sure to say at LEAST one thing a day we appreciate about each other. There are more but you get the idea.
      In the end I still have so much to learn about myself and so many things I want to do and so many hours of alone that I desire that I can't imagine ever again NEEDING more than one partner; I found someone who compliments me and allows me to grow and if I give him as much attention as I give myself there is little room for much else. When I need more satisfaction I go volunteer at the shelter. When I need to feel more attractive or sexual or flirty I put on a sexy dress for dinner. I'm happy with quality over quantity… but this is ME… (cont'd)I think some people are more wired for multiple parnters…but remember Polyamory is about PARTNERS and RELATIONSHIPS… sleeping around is still sleeping around, (cont'd)

      • ARCreated says:

        if it isn't mutual and it does hurt someone else then I'm sorry but you need to reevaluate and I also recommend you do some serious soul searching about what you are seeking so that you aren't just filling a space so you don't have to listen…just make sure first and as long as all encounters are about love, respect, nourishment, communication and not about self-esteem, power, control or retaliation then I say enjoy and do what is best for you and your loved ones.

        • candicegarrett says:

          yup, yup and yup. I agree with all of your insight. I am in a wonderful marriage. It's challenging at times. People change, situations change. There is always so much more to explore and so much more to enjoy, with a little work. There is a level of trust that has been cultivated, a level of understanding and intimacy that goes in to and beyond the bedroom. That is what makes my relationship beautiful. I'm not interested in having anything less than that with anyone else.

        • cathartictongue says:

          I really enjoyed reading your comment. I agree with you that poly seems to be a way to avoid the self and others, to skim the surface of relationships. It is non-committal and "easier" not to deal with the deeper sides of life and emotions. I have observed a handful of people in poly relationships and to-date I haven't heard of anything positive, although I try to keep an open mind. Most end badly. I think it could be possible if we lived in a culture with higher emotional intelligence, but sadly this isn't true for many people.

          For myself, I will always be mono. That is how I am wired. I think of each person as a separate universe and were one to come along and sweep me off my feet, I'd want to spend the rest of my life not only getting to know him, but also getting to know how we grow and change together.

          I went through a lot of co-dependent relationships, experienced a lot of emotional and verbal abuse in my past. It was great reading what you wrote because it gave me more ideas for standards I should be upholding myself as well as looking for in another.

  21. Blake Wilson Blake says:

    This is definitely a person-to-person issue more than a "society has crammed this down our throats because it benefits men!" Ask any anthropologist.

    Anyway, dating is a pain in the ass. Truly. I have zero desire to subject myself to that mess. People want to? Fine. Go for it! But for me, being happily married, I couldn't imagine wasting my time and money looking for sex outside the marriage. And yes, I believe this is a sex issue. Otherwise, just make friends. You can form quite profound emotional attachments with people without having to exclude your spouse.

  22. *K* says:

    I immediately thought the same thing blake did. I have no problem with others doing whatever floats their boat…but considering the depth of the emotional and sexual connection I have with my partner, I just honestly cannot imagine trying to maintain anything resembling that with someone else. of course I have deep emotional connections with people other than my partner, i.e. family, close friends (both male and female) but I have never felt the desire to have multiple sexual partners. ever. even when I was in "non-serious" dating relationships and it would have been acceptable.

    I have several (married) friends that are poly and I've even been asked to partake in poly situations and it just is confusing to me. I have no interest in doing it. it's enough to make me wonder if there is a genuine biological (or other significant) difference in the makeup/evolution of those who truly want this and those who don't. maybe I have just been culturally brainwashed but for right now, my current partner is fulfilling to me in every way that I need (and yes, when I say "that I need," I mean that some of the needs in my life are met by other close emotional connections with other people, I am not trying to say he is my "everything," but he does fill in the blanks where others have not) and if that ceases to be the case, I think I would have to reconsider WHY he was no longer able to do that within our relationship – what has changed, and can we repair it or is it time to simply move on. just like with all relationships, sexual or otherwise. if it's not fulfilling, can you look to your other relationships to fill in the places that are lacking, and/or is the fulfillment you DO get even enough to maintain it? I guess if I felt the "need" to look for that level of emotional or sexual closeness with another, it would be a red flag of sorts to me, having never felt that way before. as blake said, dating is a pain in the ass. I really enjoy the closeness and ease of only having to "deal" with one other person on this level, though I understand this concept isn't workable for everyone.

    very interesting! thanks for sharing.

  23. Chad Steele says:

    We are all poly amorous. The word means many loves, not necessarily many sexual partners. Love isn't about sex anyway. Right? So, why do so many people say their relationships aren't dependent on sex and yet almost every break up is… so, does sex matter or not? It does, but only to our egos. The key to good love and good sex is to be generous, self less, etc…. any emotion less than generous, empowering, authentic, honest, and intimate is probably selfish and has little to do with love and has more to do with control, drama, insecurity, etc.

    Jealousy, obsession, etc. are all objectifications that lead to the cycle of attach/detach which is the paradigm of suffering. There is no suffering in love, because love IS infinite… any finite objectifications enable fear and suffering, not love.

    Now, whether sex is healthy, safe, etc. is just logistics. Driving a car on average is far more dangerous than sex and yet it is a cultural norm and so we've developed ways to make it safer. Marriage did that for sex for many generations. It still may for some. Although, it seems, our culture is seeking new and expanded ways to express love safely.

    Partnership should be about making a difference in the world, not just sex or just two people who think they're happiness (sexual or otherwise) should be totally fulfilled by the other. Absurd.

    The act of sex isn't inherently more dangerous to your physical or emotional health than anything else…
    It is all just play. Enjoy it.

    Check out my website for an upcoming InfinityExperience called LOVE.CONNECTION.POWER on November 13, 2010 in Denver, CO

  24. Jayney says:

    I am currently recovering from a “domestic abuse” relationship, where I was the object of someone else’s obsession, jealousy and possessiveness. I’ll never fully understand but he tried to stop me from having interation with anyone. whether it is still becasue i am recovering, but my last experiences have made me wonder whether it is possible to have sex without emotional involvement. I have had sex for the sake of sex without feeling the need to have anything more with the person. The last person I tried to do that with, I ended up getting swept away into a relationship that just left me confused about happened and if I had opened the door to be used for sex and thrown to the side. Now I am learning that my previous conceptions about “relationship” were wrong and constructed by someone else’s expectations and possibly even society’s expectations. Communication and honesty is key for any relationship to work, but the relationship should be defined by the people who are in the relationship and what works for them.

  25. [...] more of Krystal’s articles check out her thoughts on open relationships, eco-friendly sex, shaving, being more queer and psychics. Krystal Baugher recently moved to [...]

  26. [...] more of Krystal’s articles, check out her thoughts on open relationships, eco-friendly sex, boobs, shaving,being more queer and psychics. Krystal Baugher recently moved to [...]

  27. Sherri says:

    I have tried all of the above and it doesn't work for me. I also like reading books like "The Ethical Slut", there fun, and I am curious kind of person, but you need to know what works for you.

    All I want is one good man to be in a relationship with. Someone who is adventurous, "has my back", and totally loves and digs me.
    Even after the experiences I have had trying to be with multiple people, etc. I have always felt awful the next day. There was never a feeling of great joy about it, but it was a way of finding out what I didn't want for me.

  28. cosette says:

    I'm with you for everything but the jealousy comment. Just watch kids on a playground to see how natural jealousy is.

  29. [...] the other hand, Krystal, who wrote an article about the pros of cons of her considering an Open Relationship, points out [...]

  30. [...] “Oh, you’re in an open relationship.” Was the woman’s reply. She then started to defend her relationship’s boundaries, explaining that neither of them actually would act on their attractions even if it were totally okay with the other, because they simply didn’t feel the need. [...]

  31. [...] days I sit comfortably at the crossroads of dating, work and marriage. Watching friend by friend announce their engagements and show off their [...]

  32. JimWilton says:

    I find it interesting that you write a whole article on polyamory without a mention of your partner of four years and how he or she would feel about this change!

    Is it really all about you? Maybe you should try having a relationship with one person before you think about two relationships at once.

  33. [...] that our partners will die from ecstasy, that no one can ever say “egh he was okay,” or “she was kind of boring;” that we will learn how to always be wanted and how to always get what we want without it being [...]

  34. [...] I don’t believe that everyone is monogamous, or that everyone should be. I think the world would be a much more beautiful place if we were all more accepting and open to other ways of love. photo <> Katia Dametto [...]

  35. leelaa says:

    when you put it like this. somehow it does make a little sense. enlightening.

  36. madhyapatha says:

    As a Marriage Family Therapist, I can share that if a divorce happens and one partner has cheated, it is likely that the infidelity occurred as a result of something going on deeper in the relationship. Most of the time it is not about monogamy. I was recently reminded by a colleague, Yogi Michael Boyle, who wrote an article on this website, that relationships are cyclic in their nature. When we aren't having great mind blowing sex or feeling deeply fulfilled, we think there is a problem in the relationship, therefore it must end so we can find something better. However, in relationships, we are supposed to understand that the cycle changes, where there might be a sexual drought at times- if we understand that as a natural human occurrence, we can move into a deeper longer relationship, without running to the next best thing, only to find out that it will be the same thing over and over again.

  37. [...] “Oh, you’re in an open relationship.” Was the woman’s reply. She then started to defend her relationship’s boundaries, explaining that neither of them actually would act on their attractions even if it were totally okay with the other. [...]

  38. Anonymous says:

    "I will never know unless I try and I still cannot decide…"

    I'll decide for you. If you don't have kids, give it a try. If you DO have kids, forget about it.

  39. Dace says:

    More people means more waste of energy, precious and divine energy that can be used to do great things on the earth. More people sounds like a lot of dramas and inner confusion and loss of harmony.
    One person is enough to live life in joy and truly be, rather than be just a slave for own desires and inner mess.
    At least I have not seen any person who manages multiple affairs/relationships and simply shines in life and can be truly inspiring to others, to be the light fro yourself and others, one must be conscious about the energy one creates or wastes or pollutes.

  40. I’ll immediately clutch your rss as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please allow me realize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  41. [...] More than a year ago, I wrote “More Sex with More People: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Open Relationships.” [...]

  42. nic says:

    I'm sorry your thoughts are EXACTLY the problem with our society…we no longer believe in sticking to our partners through GOOD and BAD, thick and thin etc. Our grandparents generations never even dreamed about leaving their spouses (well I'm sure the did, but they certainly did NOT act on it). The real problem is that we have come to expect thrilling, exciting lives 24/7. we are no longer content with the mundane routine of long term relationships and /or marriage. We have come to think "if it is broke (or boring, or annoying etc) then we throw in the towel." I feel that we have lost our fighting spirit…it has become so socially acceptable to get divorced that people do not think twice about ending their GOOD relationships. I feel that it is the responsibility of the people ion their 20's and 30's to turn things back to giving marriage a fighting chance. In my opinion swinging or any other form of multiple sex partners within a relationship is selfish and will add stress etc to the relationship. Boo

  43. Laura Kay says:

    More more info read "The Ethical Slut" http://www.amazon.com/The-Ethical-Slut-Relationsh… Enjoy!

  44. archaeolady says:

    Yeah, way to go fellow DePaul alumn! :)

  45. Ijustwantedtoknow says:

    I often wonder if polyamorous people just need to wait a little longer before finding a person that meets all of their needs? The next question would be then, is there such a person? ( one that fits all of their needs). I also wonder if people turn to polyamory because they did marry someone who matched up with their needs at the time but then as they grew together, they actually just grew apart? People get so comfortable with being unhappy so they force themselves to stay married because of whatever reason besides "because she/he makes me happy." In that case polyamory would seem like a good idea as it would give someone the chance to continue filling other needs without letting go of the comfort they have achieved with the first partner. Now in the event that it sounds like I am implying that poly amorous people are polyamorus because they are lacking something, I'd like to understand then..if one has every need met with one person, why then does an intimate relationship need to develop with more people? Is it because of "sexual freedom?" if so, then why not date until satisfied? I wish to not be too critical of the idea of polyamory, I simply struggle to understand it. I enjoy meeting people who are and I enjoy being able to ask questions so that I may gain new insights. Thanks for writing this article.

  46. [...] new friend Rebecca Ingalls, of Drexel University, let me know about this piece, “More Sex with More People.” Thanks, Rebecca! Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  47. black iris says:

    "An observation I’ve noticed about married couples is that they often don’t talk to each other, about anything. There is a security in knowing that the other one is always going to come home, but there is also a monotonousness to it that seems utterly depressing. What appears to be missing over time, when the bore begins to occur, is a deeper understanding of oneself through the connection with another human being—a cut off, an invisibility, a routine with no positivity."

    Well, if you're concerned that you're not talking enough to your partner after a while, you can work on talking to them more and about deeper things. There are plenty of subjects to talk about besides whether they can bring their sex partners home or listen to your favorite songs with them. (Sexual fantasies might be one to consider.)

    But I really want to defend long-term bonding with one special person here. It is precisely through being with the same person over time that you get a deeper understanding of yourself. They know your flaws. You know theirs. Can you grow and change? Can you do something to make your relationship deeper? Can you move beyond boredom/change your routines? Can you stick around when the going gets tough (sickness, lack of money, sleepless nights)? Changing partners is the easy way out – the way to avoid facing yourself and growing.

    And in this context, adding romantic partners for variety sounds like it might be a way to avoid dealing with boredom or problems in a relationship. That isn't a good reason to open a relationship, in my opinion.

    • Zen says:

      Bravo, Black Iris. This article shows an incredibly naive view of relationships and human nature. If someone can't find peace in a good, stable relationship, maybe it is time to explore why, and use the relationship as a tool to grow. Going deep (inside yourself), not wide.

  48. Black Iris says:

    A few thoughts from a devoted monogamist:

    on sex –

    Polyamory could lead to less sex if your partner gets busy elsewhere and you don't.

    For many people, sex with someone you don't love and trust isn't as physically satisfying. Finding a good partner takes a fair amount of time and energy. I'd rather put that into the sex in the relationship that I have.

    The STDs are the dealbreaker for me, though. Why risk that at all? Can you trust your partner to be good every single time ever?

  49. black iris says:

    on more people –

    You can have friendships outside your relationship and be sexually monogamous. In some ways it can make it easier to do this. You have a defined boundary – no sex – so you can relax and enjoy doing other things and not get bent out of shape with jealousy.

    I think jealousy is just part of our human nature and not something we should feel guilty for and try to rise above. It's how things are. If you leave your partner alone and go off to have a romance, your partner will probably feel lonely and insecure. That doesn't mean they're weak. Some people don't feel that way, but most do and we don't need to feel bad for that anymore than we should feel bad for wanting sex.

  50. black iris says:

    on more rules –

    This is actually one thing about polyamory that I just don't get. Why would you want to fill your life with more rules and more discussions of feelings? It's not like you don't have enough of that already in any relationship.

    And if you're going to have rules anyway, you can still betray each other, lose trust, be unfaithful and break up. How different is it from sexual monogamy? It's just drawing the boundary lines in a different place – you have to love me the most, but you can have sex with someone else. It's a strange mixture of monogamy – one primary partner and non-monogamy – sleep with other people and hope you don't care about them too much.

    Full, 100% polyamory would, I think be more like being single – two independent people who live their own lives and may or may not come back to each other.

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