Are there open relationships or is it just another myth about homosexual couples?

In my last study, in which I evaluated relational variables of homosexual couples in which 1475 gay men resident in Spain participated, 22 % (312) indicated that they were in an open relationship at the time of the study, which speaks of the change that is taking place in the way of living relationships as a couple and that we are not talking about a myth but a reality.

“My partner and I have been in a closed relationship so far and we want to open it, but we’re worried because we don’t know how it will affect the relationship”

That’s one of the phrases I hear the most in therapy with gay couples.

Before coming to therapy with this problem some couples have often asked friends or read experiences on the Internet, and the opinions they find are very varied and do not often clarify their decision: “if you open it will be the end of the relationship,”; ah! haven’t you opened it yet?”; “But if there are no monogamous homosexual couples,”; or “if you want to have sex with others is that you no longer want it, the best thing is to leave the relationship”.

Although all opinions are respectable the reality is that there is already research confirming that both types of relationships can work, what defines success in a relationship is not sexual exclusivity but honesty, sincerity and mutual respect among other variables.

Bearing in mind this new style of relationship that exists I will try to help you in how to make this decision or if you are already in an open relationship how to make it work.

A) DO WE BOTH WANT AN OPEN RELATIONSHIP? The important thing is that you both want this kind of relationship. If you accept the proposal to open the relationship so that your partner does not abandon you, it is most likely that he will end up destroying the relationship. This doesn’t mean you have to be sure, you may just agree to try it. Remember that entering into an open relationship without agreeing will lead to increased jealousy, envy, insecurity, feelings of exclusion, fear of abandonment and frustration all of which will cause the relationship to be destroyed. The goal of opening the relationship is to increase individual and couple satisfaction and not the erosion of the relationship.

B)  WE HAVE DECIDED THAT WE WANT AN OPEN PARTNERSHIP RELATIONSHIP. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE AN OPEN RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU?:  The concept of open relationship is something very abstract so for each member of the couple can be something different, so the goal is to be as clear as possible and decide what can and can not be done thanks to these 15 questions I suggest:

  1. Will you talk to the partner who has had an encounter or will you keep it a secret when it happens? So we don’t encounter unnecessary interrogations or lies that only lead to mistrust.

  2. Can it be repeated with one person more than once? Repeating may involve getting to have an emotional involvement with that person, but at the same time can be a good way not to have multiple sexual partners, as always this answer only has the partner itself.

  3. Are there days when you can’t stay? Weekends? Couple days? Specific times? In therapy I usually recommend that a day of the week be “couple’s day”; in which they do something together and alone without the presence of anyone else. Some couples already have that day naturally selected without the advice of a psychologist, perhaps that day is not the best to have a meeting outside the relationship and should continue as your special day.

  4. Can other activities be shared with sexual partners (cinemas, dinners, etc. . . ) or will they just be sexual encounters? This is a cornerstone of the new style of relationship and should be very clear because it often creates many problems if not well defined.

  5. Can you bring them home or not? Can you bring them home but not have sex in the bedroom, in the couple’s common bed? There are couples for whom the bed they share is a symbol of intimacy, only shared with the couple. Even if the relationship opens up, this doesn’t mean that there can’t still be elements that you only share with your partner.

  6. Is the relationship open at all times? Is it only open if the couple is separated during a trip? There will be couples who decide to have an open relationship only during the time when one of the members is away, for work, for vacation, or because they do not live in the same city or country and others who have an open relationship 365 days a year.

  7. Will we introduce these sexual partners to our partner? If it has been agreed that the sexual partner can be repeated more than once and that more activities than just sex can be shared, decide whether or not you want to introduce these sexual partners to your partner.

  8. Does this mean that there will no longer be sex between partners? There are couples who stop having sex with each other once they open the relationship. It is important to make this point clear, if you continue to have sex within the couple it is important that sexual encounters outside the relationship do not interfere with the sexual life of the couple.

  9. Will you talk to your sexual partners about having a partner? One way to make sexual partners see that it is only a sexual encounter is to tell them that you have a partner from the beginning even before you meet, that will also make it clear to the occasional sexual partner so that their expectations are clear.

  10. Will friends be told that they are an open couple? Will they stay in the couple’s privacy? This question often creates disagreements between members of the couple whatever you decide remember your partner’s intimacy is something that is only necessary for you and your partner to know.

  11. What do you do if you develop emotional ties with someone you have sex with? Some couples will decide to continue and others will choose not to continue seeing the sexual partner, so that it does not destabilize the relationship.

  12. Are there people you can’t have sex with? Maybe there are certain friends you can’t have sex with.

  13. Will we still have unprotected sex? In long term and sometimes short term relationships, many have stopped using condoms so once the relationship is opened it is worth considering whether to continue with that decision. Obviously, protecting yourself in these occasional relationships outside of the relationship is not a question to reflect on but a duty to respect your health and especially that of your partner.

  14. Are there sexual practices that are not allowed outside the relationship? Some couples decide that certain practices such as penetration, kissing or oral sex to name a few cannot be performed with occasional sexual partners.

  15. Can an active search for sexual partners be carried out? Some couples decide not to have profiles in pages, nor applications of contacts, only occasional “unsearched” meetings are admitted. This part is complex to define and requires you to speak it calmly.

Answer these questions separately, reflect on them and then share what you have written and discuss it to reach a conclusion. Doing it separately is a way of not letting yourselves be influenced by the other’s opinion. I emphasize that they are all questions to reflect, the answers or indications after each question are nothing more than examples of decisions of couples that I have seen in consultation, but each couple must find their own answers and place their own borders and rules within this new style of relationship. I’m sure there’s a lot more to those questions than you can add. The right decision will be the one you choose with your partner.

Thank you for reading to me if you liked to share it, if there is any topic that you would like to treat in the blog do not hesitate to contact..

Cordial greetings

Dr. Antonio Ortega López.

Psychologist, sex and couples therapist specializing in the LGTB community

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