Open Relationships: What’s Your Position?

open-sign

San Francisco State University conducted a study on the frequency of open relationships among gay couples. In a recent article in the New York Times, they describe the findings:

“The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.”

The study will be released this month, which will finally shed some light on a topic that I feel has been taboo for too long. The study says that for many of the couples, they have stronger, longer lasting, and more honest relationships as a result. They almost always have rules to play by. When straight people do this kind of thing, people call it cheating or having an affair, whereas in the gay world it doesn’t have such a negative connotation.

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Transparency can make relationships stronger, says Joe Quirk, author of the best-selling relationship book “It’s Not You, It’s Biology.” He also said:

“The combination of freedom and mutual understanding can foster a unique level of trust. The traditional American marriage is in crisis, and we need insight. If innovation in marriage is going to occur, it will be spearheaded by homosexual marriages.”

I’ve written about this before. I think my position is that the couple should do whatever works for them. I don’t think there should be a set rule imposed by society that couples should remain completely monogamous, nor do I think that couples should be encouraged to open their relationship unless it’s something they feel they would benefit from. There are pros and cons to either way and I think people just need to be aware of what those are, discuss it with their partners, and make an informed decision about this.

I’m really glad that this study is coming out because in the article that I wrote previously on this topic, I was really torn about it. I mean, the “open” concept seemed so attached to the gay culture and I couldn’t decide if it was right or not in the sense that it was actually a healthy thing to do. As I mentioned, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer here – couples need to just do what works for their relationship. If their objective is to spend their life together, they should do it the way that works for them…however they see fit.

What do you think? What has worked for you?

  • Jared

    Personally I’m all about monogamy. Especially in this day and age when their are God knows how many STD’s floating around, your risk of getting infected is THAT much higher when you have an open relationship, regardless of how safe people think they are being. To me having an open relationship is only for the sex, and while it may be “biological” for people (moreso men) to crave sex, I find it a poor excuse to find a reason to do so with another person just because you need to spice up your sex life. A relationship should be so much more than that, but it’s just unfortunate testosterone takes over, seemingly moreso in gay men.

    Though I personally don’t believe in open relationships, ultimately I believe people have the right to do whatever the hell they want. If both people in a relationship agree to it and have rules to play by, then all the power to them. That being said, I question the validity of the survey/study. You need to look at what the actual demographics were, and take into account that a lot of more conservative and perhaps closeted gay men probably wouldn’t take part in this kind of study anyway. Perhaps they were all circuit queens and bath housers, iono :O

  • David Everhart

    Even if men are wired to want to have sex with everything, whatever happened to certain human traits called restraint or empathy. In my experience, no matter how much communication there is, someone always ends up hurt in an open relationship. It may be human nature to be promiscuous, but it is also human nature to want to be #1 in someone’s heart.

    To me, the word relationship has too many definitions. We have relationships with practically everyone we come in contact with. I don’t really think we need to put words in front of the word relationship to categorize it. However, if you want to be with someone for the rest of your life or in some cases, just right now, to me it is a form of commitment and exclusivity, and is falling short to just call it a relationship. Inching in on this is the gay marriage debate. Some of us don’t just want to be in relationships. To me, marriage means exclusivity and commitment, which is where I prefer to be heading, and distance myself from those who prefer high risk activities.

    I also believe the focus behind the gay community and their promiscuity is not that they partipicate in it more than heterosexuals, it is that they are more open in the dialogue.

  • I think this will just drive a wedge between the gay community and enforce any negative stereotypes that are held in society today. I personally would never stick around with someone who was having the desire to sleep with something else.

    I respect myself too much to be someone’s other choice. If I am not the right fit for someone and you need to sleep with someone else to get what you need, don’t come back.

  • Love it! Hell, it’s half the reason I have sex these days!
    I use to be hugely against the notion of myself being in an open relationship but having seen friends pull it off after over a decade of being together I know that it does work and it does quell urges and keep honesty easy. I say if it feels good and doesn’t hurt anyone, then do it (condom of course always included 😉

  • JJ

    I reasonly tried it with a new boyfriend of just four monts. He wanted to bottom for another well endowed dude and we tried it once. I knew it wasn’t for me. However, my new beau was all over it, not to mention he has a big dick fetish. Mine is huge but he wants bigger. Without sounding conceited, we both are very goodlookin men and could probably have our pick. Before we tried it, I was very content. Now, I feel like I resent this guy for wanting to give it up every weekend. I HATE seeing a strange dude Fuck him. Any advice?

  • Hey JJ,

    My advice would be to talk to him about how you’re feeling – I think it’s absolutely normal to feel off about seeing someone else intimate with your man, but I you may not have known that had you not tried it out.

    After my experience with that in a past relationship, I’m vowed to not do it again for the same reason you mentioned.

    You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and hopefully you’re man will see that you not wanting to bring in a third anymore is coming from a place of wanting to protect what you two have together. Not to mention it gives you that sick feeling in your stomach when you see him with someone else.

    I’ve seen a lot of relationships fail when they open up the doors, but for some it works. You guys just need to talk about what each of you need so you’re happy.

    Hope that helps!