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The Open Relationship, Was It a Good Idea? - Relationship Advice

Updated on July 20, 2010

Dear Veronica,

My partner and I have been together for 44 years. As with many couples the spice just went out of the bedroom naturally and in an effort to resurrect it we decided to be an open couple. (...) We set parameters like you had suggested in another hub, and we agreed on all the fine points. We went into this with our eyes open and I can honestly say neither of us has broken any of our rules. (...) I was the one that suggested this. We have only been with each other for almost half a century. We love each other and have spent out lives together, and will continue to spend our lives together. This was just this one aspect of things. 

The first few times either of us had a date I think it was exciting. Well it's been about 4 months now, each of us has experienced something outside of our relationship now. I admit it was fun. But now I want it to be over. 

Veronica I feel like such a hypocrite! I practically had to talk my partner into trying this. I swore up and down and sideways that I was fine with this. This is what I wanted. We are both in our 60's and I really believed that this would be natural and happy. And I think it was. But now it's not. Now I feel jealous, and I don't want to be with anyone but my love. (...)

What should I do now that I got what I wanted ? :( 

Randy from NJ

Dear Randy from NJ,

I apologize for the (...) in a few places. Hubpages has some policies I adhere to, and I had to remove some of the more intimate things you shared. However I don't think that by removing those personal details that I have altered your message. In essence, your message isn't about bedroom things, it's about heart things.

Congratulations to you and your partner on 44 years together. What a truly beautiful thing!

I have to start by saying that I smiled at the idea that you were able to talk to your partner about wanting to date other people, but you aren't able to talk to your partner about your being wrong. 

Don't look at it as being wrong. Look at it as a change. Just like anything else. I'm sure at one time you picked a car to buy that eventually you sold and you didn't choose that kind of car again. That doesn't mean you were wrong about that car, it just means time went on and things changed. Really this is no different. 

You are a mature adult, in an exemplary relationship. One of the many aspects of the relationship needed some help. There is absolutely nothing wrong or odd about that. It is wonderful that you two were able to talk about it. Communication is everything. Sometimes just talking about it, setting those parameters and giggling about possibilities is enough of a stray for some people. They don't have to actually go through with doing anything. Talking is enough fun.

This was just like any other thing that may have changed or faded during 44 years together. Maybe one of you got tired of always being the one to take care of the lawn. So now you hire a lawn care company. Or a cleaning service. Or a chauffeur. Or someone outside of the relationship to come in and take care of something or help out with something. A friend of mine who has played piano her whole life has just hired a piano teacher because she wants to learn more, improve, mix it, try some different things. In essence this is no different. 

What two people agree to do together is no one's business but theirs. As long as no one is being harmed, and no one is doing anything against their will, you are perfectly free to create the life you want and include different things you enjoy. No one has any right to judge you, on this or on anything else you do in the privacy of your own relationship.

My husband and I are together going on 15 years now, and from date #1 we have been monogamous. As open minded as I like to think I am, that is just the way I am. Who knows after 44 yeas together if we will revisit the plan! I would like to think that we will always be able to communicate. That is more important than anything else. If we can't speak honestly with each other and share our true hearts and thoughts, then we have nothing.

Randy from NJ, you and your partner tried out something. It's kind of exciting that it was fun for you both for a bit. But the fact that it isn't OK with you anymore, means it isn't OK for the couple. You have to talk to your partner. It's not about being wrong. It's about changing. 

If you aren't both still consenting to this, then there is a problem. The remedy is easy enough. But you have to have this discussion. "Thanks for giving this a try. I hope we each had a little fun. But I'm passed this now and I don't want to have an open relationship with you anymore. What do you think? How do you feel?" 

You have to have this discussion, just as you had to have the first one. You both need to discuss what you want at this point, and how to go about making any adjustments you can.

As I said in that Hub you referenced, once this is done it can never be undone. You will have to go forward with the knowledge that you each did this. If that is uncomfortable than talking about it is all the more important. You're human; wanting to feel secure and needing some reassurance sometimes is healthy and normal. If you don't express your fears and concerns to your partner, you might be setting yourself up for alot of projection and internalization that could damage what you have. 

Also, there's an expression about once you open Pandora's Box it's hard to get it back closed. Just because you've decided the open arrangement isn't working for you, doesn't mean your partner feels the same. I truly believe 44 years is not worth damaging, and even if he feels like the open thing is fun, he needs to be completely open to your uncomfortableness and to prioritize you as his partner. 

What I'm saying is, the conversation may have some resistance. Just as you said when you suggested this he was resistant, now that you'll be suggesting the end to this he may also be resistant. it is important for you to understand that it is not a reflection on you. It doesn't mean he has pulled away from you, or that you're wrong, or that this isn't fixable. It just is what it is. You can't hand a little Hedwig a big bag of Gummy Bears and then be surprised when he pouts if you take them away. Just as you are allowed to have your feelings and desires, so is he. 

Randy from NJ, I seriously think that if you two crazy kids made it 44 years together, that you have some awesome communication skills, that you really trust each other, and that you have something truly special. I can't imagine that after 44 years he won't be sensitive to your needs. But you have to talk to him. You have to bring this up and you have to be honest. 

I wish you both a lot of luck, not that I think you will need it. I hope you'll keep in touch and let us know what happens. Namaste fellow babies.


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  • colorsuz profile image

    colorsuz 7 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

    Pam--I've been in an exclusive relationship for the past 4-5 months now, and tonight I told my boyfriend I wanted to try an open relationship. Before I started dating him I was happily single for about four years, and didn't have any problems with it. On our first date, I told my current boyfriend that my ideal relationship could be open or closed based on what the two people agree on. I'm like you in that physical jealousy would not get in the way (not to say that I want to hear the details, but I understand the need for sexual variety)...He was upset because he naturally seeks monogamy, but I felt somewhat cheated in that I tried to be exclusive for him, but he wasn't concerned with my different perspective. So I decided I had to do this because my sex drive has been lower and I haven't been as happy...and now I guess we'll see how it goes. Any advice? How did your first open relationship work?

  • profile image

    Pam 7 years ago

    I've been in a string of open relationships and loved them. It works for me. And, as a reformed cheater, I can also say it works a helluva lot better than lying. I don't get jealous of physical stuff... I am far more jealous of best friends taking Time away from me and my guy, than from women who borrow my guy for a one-off. And as a bonus, I get to act on flirtations, and both my guy and I are reminded that we are attractive to others and valuable to each other.

    Having said this... friends have argued that I haven't formed deep and forever attachments to these boyfriends. While a) I do not think I would ever be jealous in a open relationship... on the other hand b) I have not cultivated a sustainable kind of Forever relationship, so my life experience may be suspect.


  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 7 years ago from NY

    dallas93444 thanks so much for the comment. Hopefully within the honesty of good communication, if someone makes that grass is greener mistake, they can find their way back home without too much of a problem.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Prhaps an another example of, "Thank God for unanswered prayers." Often, the other side of the fence looks good, but after you have torn yourself crawling over, under, through the fence, you find it is the same on both sides of the "fence."

  • profile image

    Debbie 7 years ago

    I could never be in an open relationship. I'm the jealous type. I can't even date more than one person at a time. I get all attached really fast. This is a smart advice you gave Veronica. I think if they agreed to try it then they can probably agree to stop. Whatever floats your boat. Communication is everything.