Enjoyment & Emotional Health

A question from someone on OKC:
“You are probably asked this question all the time due to your unique circumstances but what do you enjoy about being in an open relationship or with multiple partners? How do you both stay emotionally ‘Okay’ with that?” 

What I enjoy:
Personal growth: I enjoy the opportunity/ies to continually work on personal growth. When things feel uncomfortable or yucky, it is a chance to work on something of my own (insecurities, fears, and other irrational beliefs and belief systems).
My sense of self and sexuality: I am queer, and love being able to explore being with people (emotionally, sensually, sexually, romantically) of different genders. I also have a strengthened sense of who I am- physically, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually, and how those things collide to create my sexual and romantic desires. I have a bolstered body image and self-appreciation, and a higher self esteem.
Sexual adventurousness and exploration: Being in an open relationship means that I am continually exposed to new and different ways of relating sensually and sexually, and it means that J and I are constantly talking about new things that we are interested in. That can take the form of D/S encounters, rough sex, tantra/energy play, gangbangs, threesomes, anal play, prostate play, using porn or erotica or toys to add spice, exhibitionism, rope play, etc.
Sexual variety: I am able to experience being with new partners sexually and romantically. Every person is unique and every person moves differently in their sexual space.
Emotional independence: Because my long-standing pattern was to become emotionally dependent on a romantic partner, being in an open relationship has meant that I have diversified my emotional relationships. This has been fantastic for me, for the health of my friendships and other relationships, and for my relationship with J. I have also been able to experience the love and caring that I feel for other people, and feel even more happy and loving in my life because of that emotional involvement with other people.
Flirting: I love flirting. And I can do that. Yay!
Conscientious and intentional relationship choices: Moving from a monogamous to an open relationship has meant that I have had my own “awakening” the past couple of years. Each relationship in my life is there intentionally now, and I invest in each one with relish.
Honesty, Communication, Integrity: My ability to be honest with myself and others, to communicate effectively, and to live with integrity have all become increasingly better. 
Choice and Freedom: I feel like I have the freedom to choose who I am partnered with. And knowing that J feels the same way makes me feel so much more connected to him, because I know he is choosing to be with me, too.

Staying emotionally “okay”:
For me, this takes the form of self-care: blogging, journaling, manicures/pedicures, exercising, meditating, yoga, crying, talking to friends, eating good food, drinking tea, taking baths, masturbating, watching guilty pleasure TV, etc.
It also takes a lot of honesty and communication. It is necessary for me to stay emotionally connected to J even when things feel difficult, sticky, rough, or sensitive. I have to be able to talk to him honestly in order to stay connected. As long as we have open lines of communication, we can help each other (as much as we can do for each other) stay “okay.” Although ultimately, it is up to each of us to stay healthy and happy, to know what we each need and want, and to communicate and negotiate with each other.

Reid Mihalko & Tantra/Energetic Play Workshop

J and I attended a workshop facilitated by Reid Mihalko, and it was quite the experience!

Here is the description of the workshop from Reid’s website, so you have some understanding of what we got ourselves into:

“Explore Kundalini, the “Tantric Twitchies” and the Dance of Vibrational Luvin’ Without the Woo-Woo! (with live Demos, too)

Remember that Cosmo magazine article that talked about how Tantra and breathing could give you explosive orgasms? How about the urban legend about Sting having sex for eight hour stints?
Regardless of your tolerance for words like “chakras” and “yoni,” there is a non New Agey way to understanding and incorporating ecstatic experiences into your bedroom routine that is fun, easy, and explosive.
If you or a lover have ever experienced post-orgasmic spasms or “twitches” after lovemaking, or feelings of heat and tension in your lower back, hands, neck or throat… You might be more energetic in your sex life than you think! And if you’ve never experienced those things but would like to, you might be pleasantly surprised how easily dancing with energetic sex is, and that YOU can grasp and play with.
Join sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko of ReidAboutSex.com for an evening of frank, fun, and electrifying learning targeted for folks who aren’t necessarily New Agey. Reid promises to drop the woo-woo and leave his Sandskrit-to-English dictionary at home! And, for those of you who say Namasté instead of “thank you,” Reid’s got you covered, too!

You will be introduced to:

  • Reid’s particular views on how sexual energy “behaves” and how it “works,” as well as ways you can begin accessing more energetic awareness in the bedroom, on the dance floor, and throughout your life
  • What Kriyas (“the twitchys”) can look like and what to do when you or a lover experiences them
  • Three possible approaches for engaging sexual energy and expanding it when exploring energetic sex with a partner or solo with yourself
  • What playing a singing saw has to do with energetic sex and expanding your lovemaking
  • Simple breathing and “presence” techniques to build up energetic awareness
  • How to use “pressure play” and where so you can help unlock and activate points on your lover’s body to augment energetic experiences during love making
  • A few advance tips and tricks that will make you smile and your partner moan regardless of whether “the twitchys” happen or not!

Whatever your level of experience with sex that seems to be “more than just sex,” Reid’s humorous and informative instruction, sex education, and live demonstrations on this esoteric (and yet more common than you think) realm of energetic sex is not to be missed!”

Okay, well J and I were a little our of element here. We both anticipated the workshop being a bit more basic than it was. I was really excited about the breathing and presence techniques, as well as the pressure play. We didn’t touch at all on those topics (disappointment on my part).

Reid was really great at talking about how energy play experiences can make a ton of sense or no sense at all, depending on whether you are a “science” person or a “mystic.” He was very honest with how he has a foot in both camps, and doesn’t fully understand where his own “tantric twitching” comes from. And for some people, he said, maybe they are really just faking. But then, who cares? If everyone is enjoying themselves, what does it matter if it is “real”? I can get behind that philosophy, although as J said, it can make it more difficult to teach and understand.

The beginning part was really awesome, because Reid consistently got us breathing deeply and exhaling with sound. That was grounding and calming. When he had us do visualization exercises of what our energy felt and looked like to us, I found that really valuable. He had us think about what our energy looked like internally, how it moved and felt, what it might look like or smell or taste or feel like. He had us do an exercise, pretending we were making a wine glass sing. He asked us to remember what that felt like and where we felt it.

It was really empowering to hear about his concept of “resonating” with another person’s energy. He contrasted this to the concept of “cording” in Shamanism, in which one person sends out energetic cords to another person. Energy flows through these cords, which can be really amazing but also really destructive if the relationship becomes destructive. With his concept of “resonating” though, you simply share energy, and then when the experience is over, you simply pull your energy back in and make the outside of yourself smooth so that the other person’s energy cannot stick to you anymore. He used the metaphor of velcro, in that the outside of yourself is like the sticky part of velcro and when you are resonating with someone and sharing energy you can stick to each other. But when you are done, you simply flatten out the little velcro hairs and suck them back in so that nothing can stick to you. This was an empowering concept, because I think we are often taught to give and give and give to partners and other important people in our lives. But that can be quite draining. You can literally feel like you don’t have any energy left over for yourself. But if you can learn how to share and then ground back into yourself after an interaction, you have shared the positive parts and then can continue on without taking on anyone else’s needs or issues, or expect someone else to fix you or save you or solve your problems.

The rest of the evening, though, went more “woo-woo” as Reid exchanged and played with energy with different workshop participants. I would never doubt that what the two people felt and experienced was real, but I did not have a frame for understanding what it could feel like for me. I was just trying to hold onto the small feelings that I sense from my own energy.

Something that I really appreciated from the end of his workshop, was a discussion about energy play and different chakras. He used the idea that there are seven chakras, and within each chakra there are seven registers. So if you think about the groin chakra as the place where you feel totally grindy, thumpy, and humpy, there are seven places within that chakra that you can play. You can play at the high end, where you feel “om Shanti, Shanti” or you can play on the opposite end where you feel even more grindy, thumpy, and humpy. That was an enlightening concept for me to hear about because I have had this idea that to have “Tantric sex” means that you would have intercourse while feeling out-of-body (so in using his language, it would mean accessing the groin chakra and playing in that upper register so that you feel all floaty, angelic, and above the cloud- om Shanti, Shanti if you will). But he did not place any value judgements on different places of energy play/tantric play– if it was fun and consensual, it was worth doing. It was also really fascinating to hear about how he can play with another person’s energy in a “non-sexual” chakra (for example, the heart chakra), and then access the lower register (the grindy, thumpy, humpy register)- in effect, “fucking someone’s heart chakra.” It was a little above my head. I just haven’t done enough of my own investigating, thinking, and experimenting to fully grasp everything he talked about. But it was certainly thought-provoking.

Lastly, I wish he would have simply provided more “beginner” type information. I want to know what his favorite book is on the topic, or if he has some simple meditation or visualization exercises that you could do solo or partnered. J and I discussed how our experiences with the hypnosis videos a while back are a kind of bridge to understanding how to “play with energy,” and I think using hypnosis as a frame of reference could be helpful to us in exploring energy play/tantric play.

I am really glad we went into a space we don’t normally go, to learn about something that neither of us has done very much researching on!!

Relationship Models (And the Lack Thereof)

J and I have had a few conversations about this topic lately: what does it mean for a relationship’s sustainability and longer-term presence when there isn’t a model for it? What I mean specifically about this, is how secondary and other romantic relationships look and whether or not they last because of the lack of models for what these relationships can look like.

We are bombarded with messages from family, friends, religious institutions, and the media about what a healthy, loving, and long-term primary partnership should look like. It is monogamous, for sure. Cohabitation is encouraged, marriage is encouraged, children are encouraged. 

But we already know that having an ethically nonmonogamous or open relationship means that you are stepping out of the bounds of mainstream culture and looking elsewhere for relationship models. Ultimately, you have to look inward toward your needs, desires, and wants to know what you want your relationship to look like. And then you need to communicate this to your partner, while also hearing what they are after. It is beautiful when these things complement one another. And yet, even that is difficult, because there is not a widespread model for what a healthy, loving, and long-term open relationship looks like. Even within the open community, there is a rich diversity of models and frameworks. (Which makes sense, because if everyone is looking inward and communicating with other individuals about what they want, then of course relationships are going to be as diverse and unique as the people in them.)

So that seems challenging enough. But then what happens for secondary or other romantic relationships? We don’t even have models (in mainstream culture) to look at for our primary partnerships; how on earth can we figure out how we want our secondary or other relationships to look like? (I realize this post is very hierarchical-oriented; this may not apply so much to folks practicing non-hierarchical forms of open relationships.)

I was running into this myself the past few days. I had been feeling anxious about what I wanted out of a particular relationship and explaining to J that I  only really desired it to look the way that it has been and yet feeling like it was boxed in. I was also expressing some sentiments of maybe that the relationship wouldn’t last very long, or that I didn’t know if the structure of it would allow for sustainability. When J reflected back to me that it seemed like I was simply experiencing dissonance with what I wanted and with feeling like it “should” look a different way, I was able to relax. I realized I was feeling like it didn’t look like a long-term primary partnership (which of course it doesn’t, because right now I am not looking for another one), and so it should be changed. But I am happy with the structure of that relationship, so really, I should just enjoy it! (And I am now back in a place of enjoying what it is. Yay!)

Again, I think the lesson for this is to remember that you are your own compass, your own guide. It is about reclaiming your power, strength, knowledge, and intuition about what you want and what works for you, and not relying on cultural messaging and frames for what your relationships should look like. If after reflection, you decide that a mainstream model does work for you, awesome! But if not, know that you have the internal strength to choose and to be happy.

Hotwifing- Some Online Resources

I wanted to simply list some other online resources that I know about for people interested in or curious about hotwifing.

Hot Wife Blog: This site has awesome blog posts, discussions, and information from people in the lifestyle.

Hotwife Experiences Blog: This blog is written by a couple who have been very active with hotwifing, and their blog has a lot of content on it.

Cuckolds Forum- Hotwifing, Swinging and Swapping Board: I haven’t checked this site out extensively, but it might be a good place to create a sense of community, reach out to other people with similar interests, and share stories.

Our Hotwives Forum: Another place to post questions and stories, share with others, and find people who love their hot wives. 


Hotwifing- Thoughts & Trends

It has struck me in the past couple of weeks that my most popular blog post is about hotwifing (and by a wide, wide margin). The majority of new readers of this blog find it through searching keywords like: hotwife, hot wife, cuckold, and hotwifing. I think the fantasy, turn-on, and lifestyle is much more popular and widespread than I ever realized. 

I have tried searching the interwebs for more concrete information about how widespread hotwifing, cuckolding, and similar arrangements are. I really can’t find anything. David Ley’s Insatiable Wives is about as close as we are right now, I think, to knowing the historical trends and popularity of wife-sharing and hotwifing.

J recalls that Dan Savage has called hotwifing a phenomenon created by the Internet and something that will dissipate quickly in the next 10-20 years. Based on Ley’s book and on our experiences talking about hotwifing and reading up on it, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. (As an aside, I am also fascinated with how hotwifing and cuckolding relationships fit within nonmonogamous relationships structures for different people, whether they be partnered nonmonogamous, swinging, or polyamorous relationships. I am also really curious how hotwifing or cuckolding relationships overlap with the larger BDSM community.)

I finally found this interview with David Ley done on HotWifeBlog. Here it is; I think it is fascinating. I have highlighted parts that I think are particularly thought-provoking.

December 6, 2009

David Ley Interviewed

I’ve had some great feedback recently from our posts focusing on the psychological nature of our lifestyle. Seems we are all fascinated with why we are sexually wired the way we are. Personally I love to reflect on what makes us all horny and find it really interesting when someone manages to touch something in my mind that I can relate to.
So today I am pleased to present an exclusive interview with author David Ley, a clinical psychologist and the author of a new book, Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them. To see if he can shed any light on why we do indeed love our women that stray.
David Ley
hotwifeblog: Welcome David and thanks for taking the time out to speak to us…. Tell us where are you based in the world?David: I live and work in Albuquerque New Mexico, though I travel a lot for business. For my book, I interviewed couples across the country.
hotwifeblog: Tell us briefly about your new book?David: My book is called Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them. It’s available on Amazon. It is an examination of the history of cuckoldry and permissive female sexual infidelity, along with the research that explains some of this phenomenon. In the book, I talk about women through history who have been sexually liberated, with their husband’s permission and encouragement. The book began after I encountered some couples who live a hotwife lifestyle, and discovered that there has been nothing published about this phenomenon, even though there are lots of people pursuing it currently as well as many stories of it in history and literature. I wrote the book in part because so many of my fellow counselors and therapists believe that couples who are not monogamous are automatically unhealthy in some way, a belief that I did not find to be true.
hotwifeblog: So hotwifing/cuckoldry is not a new phenomenon?David: I think a lot of people believe it is new, though I found evidence that this lifestyle has truly been around as long as human sexuality has. In my book, I talk about examples of this lifestyle in the Bible, in many non-Western cultures, and throughout Western history. I’ll give you a few examples: in some island cultures, festivals were celebrated with unrestrained sexuality. One story I cite describes a wife who took on over a hundred men in one night, during a tribal ceremony. Amongst Western civilization, examples of historical hotwives include Pauline, the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, and Wallis Simpson, the divorcé who married the King of England in 1936. Wallis Simpson had famously had a threesome in China with a former husband, and practiced a technique in bed that she called the “Shanghai Squeeze,” which was allegedly able to make a “matchstick feel like a Havana cigar.”
What is new today is that the Internet has allowed more men and women who might be interested in this lifestyle to learn that they are not alone in these desires. In the past, people suppressed their desires for fear of social rejection and stigma. Finding that there are others out there who share these desires has led more husbands to be brave enough to express their desires to their wives, and more wives to be willing and able to explore their sexuality outside their marriage. The resource of the Internet has also offered them more venues through which to pursue fulfillment of their desires and fantasies.
hotwifeblog: Where does the lifestyle come from?David: I argue in my book that there are lots of reasons for this phenomenon. For women, it is a means to explore the full reaches of their sexuality, safe within a marriage and with the knowledge that their sexual explorations will not cost them their husband. Sometimes, it is an avenue to explore male bisexuality, even if only vicariously through the wife’s adventures. It can also be a means in which men can “experience” the greater capacity of sexual fulfillment available to women, getting sexual excitement by watching their wife achieve greater sexual pleasure through the attentions of more than one man. Some men celebrate that they have a wife that other men want – they can even share their wife with other men, and enjoy the admiration and envy they get for having such a sexy and uninhibited wife. Some of the men I interviewed talked about feeling like they are a “king” with something other men want (some women talk about the feeling of being a “queen” desired by so many men and so powerful in holding that desire). Some men, as in the story of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, have physiological difficulties satisfying their wife sexually, and do not want her to “lose out as a result.”
hotwifeblog: How do we end up with this kink?David: I think there is a lot of biology at play here, in different ways. Our brain chemistry changes over the course of a relationship. When we first start a sexual relationship, we are driven by our neurochemicals to have lots and lots of sex, and think about our partner all day long. After a few months though, those chemicals subside, and our sexuality changes somewhat, becoming more nurturing and bit less passionate. But, when we start a relationship with other people, those early exciting neurochemicals roar back at full strength. When the wife goes off with another man, she then brings that chemical excitement back to her husband, and her primary relationship.
hotwifeblog: Do you think exposure to the lifestyle at an early age has made cuckoldry stronger for men than if they found it say recently?David: I saw more men who had these desires from an early age, and who experienced them quite strongly, and relatively fewer men who had the desires emerge suddenly. The common fantasy is that the husband finds the wife being unfaithful, and finds himself surprisingly aroused by it. But the great majority of the couples I saw intentionally began their sexual explorations at the initiation of the husband, based upon long-standing desires he had to see his women, and especially his wife, enjoy sex with another man.
hotwifeblog: We get a lot of regular guys out there, even regular guys that swing, that can’t seem to understand that we enjoy our wives/girlfriends behaving like sluts. Are we that different to conventionally minded men?David: I think this is a fascinating question, and one that isn’t really answered. I argue in my book that the things that underlie these desires are basic, natural parts of human sexuality that are just taken to an extreme by men who pursue hotwifing or cuckoldry. But why and how these men end up going to these extremes is still something of a mystery. Hopefully, my book will start some questions and research into this area.
hotwifeblog: How would you say guys into this lifestyle are able to control the jealousy emotion in their minds that so many men would never be able to do?David: First, I think that the jealousy is often still there, but comes out in their sexual excitement, rather than through fear or anger. But more so, I see that these men and couples have developed high levels of communication, and learned to talk about situations that would trigger jealousy, then either avoid them or manage them. And some people seem to just be immune to jealousy, either by virtue of their own personality, or by their confidence in the security of their relationship and the love they share with their wives.
hotwifeblog: Why do you think some men get so excited about seeing their wife or girlfriend with another guy?David: I think another form of biology is involved here, that of sperm competition. Sperm competition is a theory of evolutionary sexuality based on the theory that male sexual biology responds to the risk of cuckoldry with increased sexual energy and by ejaculating more sperm behave more aggressively, in order to combat the sperm of another man. A case in point – the overwhelming male fantasy is for a threesome with two females, but surprisingly, research shows that the overwhelming image present in pornography is a single woman with multiple males. Why? Because when a man watches pornography with multiple men and a single woman, his ejaculate contains more sperm, he ejaculates harder and longer and, is more disposed to become erect again and ejaculate again. Hotwife and cuckold couples have unconsciously found ways to use that biological mechanism in order to trigger enormous sexual excitement in their primary relationship, as the husband’s sexual chemistry is kicked into overdrive by his wife’s sexual explorations with another man. At the same time, the wife is often more orgasmic with a man other than her husband, as her body reacts with physiological excitement to the possibility of becoming pregnant by another man.
hotwifeblog: Do you think women have this lifestyle within them or are they driven to it and adapt to it by the freedom their partners give them?David: Female sexual capacity is infinitely greater than male sexuality. A woman can have as many as fifty orgasms in an hour; a man is limited to at most three or four. But society has condemned and constrained female sexuality for millennia, and it is only in cultures where women had economic power that women could resist those constraints upon their sexuality. In our society, it has been the rare woman who innately embraces the full capacity of her sexuality, and explores it outside social dictates regarding monogamy, and being “proper.” Most, but not all, of these couples start on the path of hotwifing at the husband’s initiation. But, as the wives explore the sexual and personal freedoms in it, many of them enjoy the ability to reject the social pressures upon their sexuality that they have experienced throughout their lives, and embrace the opportunity to pursue unrestrained sexual explorations with other men.
hotwifeblog: Do you think all or most women have potential to live life as a hotwife?David: I saw a lot of men who desired to find ways to turn their wives into hotwives. But women are under intense social pressures from an early age, telling them to be “nice,” to suppress their sexuality, and to avoid ever being a “slut.” This history of pressure is difficult for most women or couples to overcome. Also, while many women enjoy casual sex, few women truly embrace the exploration of casual sex, even with the support and encouragement of their husband – the social conditioning is just too strong. And, for some women, even sexually liberated women, this lifestyle just doesn’t fit their desires for intimacy.
hotwifeblog: How did you yourself find an interest in the lifestyle?David: I have worked with sexuality and counseling throughout much of my career, but most of it focused upon unhealthy aspects of sexuality. Gradually, I found that there were lots of people quietly exploring aspects of sexuality that people judged as unhealthy, just because they were rare or uncommon, not because anyone was getting hurt or because there were issues of nonconsent. When I first met some people living the hotwife lifestyle, I confess that I initially thought that their lifestyle must be unhealthy, or damaging to their relationship. When I found that my initial assumptions were ungrounded, I became fascinated that people were healthily living a lifestyle that rejected so many strong social taboos. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became, as I found how much the lifestyle had to say about human sexuality and marriage in general.
hotwifeblog: Do you have any personal cuck feelings lurking within?David: Everybody asks whether I wrote this book about my own sexuality. What I found is that cuckoldry has been involved in human sexuality throughout our evolution. Sure, I found some of the stories these couples told me to be quite arousing. As a man, I have always found female sexuality very alluring, and sexually confident women to be extremely attractive. Having learned more about female sexuality in the course of this book, my admiration for female eroticism has grown.
hotwifeblog: Have you ever been in a relationship that was this way inclined?David: My wife and I have been married for ten years. She has always joked about her one day having a harem of husbands. At least, before I wrote this book, I always thought she was joking. Now I’m not so sure. Having written this book, I find that I’m no longer so threatened by that idea. If these other husbands came with some useful skills, like being a gourmet chef who loves to do yard work for instance, I might even be willing to consider the possibility.
hotwifeblog: Do you really think people can live this lifestyle and still have a healthy marriage?David: Ultimately, I think that the core components of a healthy relationship, such as good communication, trust, mutual respect, and mutual support, can be implemented in a monogamous or nonmonogamous marriage. I saw several couples who had been happily married for over thirty years, who were pursuing hotwife encounters. I also saw some who got into hotwifing, and got in over their heads pretty quickly, and watched their marriages fall apart. The differences, I think, go back to the health and strength of the relationship’s foundation. With a healthy foundation, couples can explore beyond a lot of boundaries.
hotwifeblog: What advice would you give to couples thinking of trying out this lifestyle?David: To be successful, I think couples have to communicate very carefully and clearly about their desires and needs. They shouldn’t try to sneak into this, or “set up” situations where the wife has sex with another man, without consent being established beforehand. Those are traps that will devastate trust in a marriage. I saw many women who simply couldn’t believe that their husbands really loved them, when they told their wives to be a slut with other men. Couples who explore this lifestyle have to work really hard to establish love, open communication and trust.
hotwifeblog: What is your next project?David: Right now, I’m recruiting couples to appear in a documentary about hotwifing. It will be based on my book, and will explore the lives and sexual adventures of these couples. Like my book, the goal is to present these couples in an honest, respectful fashion, showing them as normal people exploring an extraordinary and exciting sexual lifestyle. If any of your readers are interested in being in the film, and I hope some of them are, they can contact me through my blog, at insatiablewives.wordpress.com

Girls & The L Word

I have experienced major, major, tingly, heart-beat-rushing, butterflies-in-my-stomach, blush-inducing crushes on only a few girls. I have experienced many other attractions to other women, ranging from mild to spicy. But god, I love the crushes. I feel so awkward, like how I remember feeling in high school around guys I totally crushed on. It’s kind of delicious. (And who likes feeling awkward? I do in these cases. Ha.)

Also, I sat on my butt a lot this week and finally finished the sixth season of The L Word. Why do I do that to myself?! I get so darn antsy (aka sexually antsy) watching the hot sex scenes. I watched three episodes last night, which yes,  I realize is a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes of being glued to a screen. Yikes. But I couldn’t help myself. I love me some hot ladies.

This is how I feel right now: SIGH. I have been absolutely loving my friendships with women the past couple of months and have been feeling a lot more satisfied overall with the amount of woman in my life, even though there hasn’t been any romance or sex involved. And yet, I feel like a piece of me is waiting in a crouched position. Aching, aching for some woman desire to be returned and acted on. Haha, and watching The L Word, I realize, isn’t helping much.

Relationship "Issues" & Satisfying Needs

Have you heard of the two following messages in open literature?

1. Never open up a relationship that has “problems” or “issues,” or that you consider rocky. Opening up a rocky monogamous relationship is a recipe for disaster.
2. One person cannot satisfy 100% of your relationship needs/wants/desires, or vice versa.

J and I have been discussing how to square these two messages. I think it’s about how you define “relationship issues” and your attitude toward them. If your issue is that you don’t communicate effectively or that feelings of dependency or possessiveness keep you from experiencing other relationships, perhaps that should be worked on and addressed before adding more people to your relationship. Similarly, if both individuals have not spent any time time working themselves (learning to manage jealousy, finding different ways of communicating or relating, etc) this should probably be done before those individuals can expect to make another simultaneous romantic relationship work. However, if your issue is that one partner is really into BDSM related activities or tantra or anal sex or has a foot fetish and the other one isn’t, then maybe that isn’t an “issue,” but rather an incompatibility that can be resolved by seeking another relationship that can satisfy that need or desire. (A parallel idea here would be to think about non sex or romantic activities. If one person is really into scuba diving, knitting, or talking about politics and the other isn’t, it is quite natural and healthy to explore and enjoy those activities by oneself or with other people. We would probably consider a relationship to be unhealthy if one partner kept the other from exploring those things because of deeper issues.) More importantly, though, I think is the recognition that perhaps opening up a tumultuous monogamous relationship is not a great idea, but experiencing challenges within an already open relationship and then using that structure to your advantage to move through challenges makes a whole lot of sense.

I don’t think these two messages are necessarily at odds with each other. I think they can be major difficulties if one partner’s desire is to have a need met exclusively by the one partner who is simply not interested in whatever activity it is (for example, if one partner has a strong desire for anal sex and is only interested in doing that with their primary partner, and yet their primary partner is not interested in anal sex). I think, too, if one partner approaches this “issue” as a relationship deficiency rather than a simple incompatibility, then it starts to create difficulties in squaring those two messages. If one partner is genuinely unhappy with their relationship because a particular need is not met by that relationship, then it probably won’t suffice to have that need met elsewhere, and it may be that that partner needs to find a different partner where that need is met within the relationship. (For example: Perhaps a couple is having challenges because one person really wants to explore D/S and the other is not interested, or has tried it and decided that it’s not for them. Is this relationship considered “rocky”? How does each individual think of this challenge? How is it framed? Is it necessary for the D/S relationship to be part of their relationship, or can the one person who wants to explore the D/S relationship fulfill this need with another interested partner?)

So, I think it has as much to do with the framing of the “issue” and the individuals’ approaches toward it as it does with the “issue” itself. 

Lastly, I think that first message is pretty interesting because it is couched within a monogamy framework. It assumes that all healthy open relationships come from healthy monogamous ones. I think there is some merit to allowing two people to come together and build trust and honesty and to create a shared history together. And, a relationship should have healthy characteristics: good communication, healthy emotional and practical boundaries, honesty, trust, respect, consent, etc. But starting off a relationship as open to avoid issues I don’t think is necessarily a bad idea if the people involved are happy with that decision and it makes sense based on the individuals’ needs and desires.