Is there such a thing as a healthy open relationship? I can only go on my own experiences, which were mixed.
I met Adam in the early 2000s. He was six foot two, tattooed, broad and masculine and counterbalanced my more twinky look. He was hairy and I was smooth, lean and blond with boyish looks. We were smitten in no time at all and entered a really passionate relationship. I was less experienced than him and in my late twenties. He was in his mid thirties and had been around the block a fair bit, trying things that I never had but which turned me on at the very thought of them. He’d had scores of anonymous one night stands, attended an orgy or two and engaged in numerous threesomes. The very thought of this made me squirm with lust.
The sex was brilliant and we were very compatible. One minor problem was that we were both quite insecure about our looks and both a little bit possessive. I resented his friendship with an ex; he mistrusted me with my gay friends. The usual things. We’d been together a couple of years and were on holiday when we ended up in a bar with a back room. The combination of drink and holiday atmosphere led to us entering into a mass fumbling session and both ending up with sticky hands, hangovers and regrets the next day.
It sparked something off though and we started to fantasise together about threesomes and about group sex. The next holiday we went on we entered another gay bar and this time ended up taking a hot young Swedish bloke back to our hotel room. It was a pretty good experience. This started the bizarre pattern we followed for the next few years.
Both of us were incredibly tempted by the array of horny blokes on offer on the gay scene. Both of us disapproved of infidelity. We came to a dangerous compromise. We would have a semi-open relationship. We could both sleep with other people of our choice but the other partner had to be present, either watching or joining in.
We set ground rules: safer sex only, we both had the right to say we didn’t want to pursue someone and we both had to agree. This worked for a while. We met a variety of blokes, some sexier than others, some duller and weirder and some more wildly exciting than we could have hoped for. We trawled the internet, saunas, back rooms and bars and managed to pull a fair bit.
Naturally, the problems soon set in. Firstly: I fancied big, manly blokes who were slightly older. He fancied younger blokes who were more effeminate. Who did we choose? The ideal was another couple like us but that wasn’t always so readily available.
How safe was safer sex? What did we do if someone wanted to see us again? Didn’t that smack of a relationship that could come with unwanted baggage
The biggest issue was jealousy. Although we were both turned on to distraction watching each other getting it on with another man; it was also slightly disturbing. Was he enjoying it more than he liked sex with me? Was I enjoying it more and could he tell? Was this “proper”? What would my mates, colleagues and family think if they knew?
He broke the rules once in Amsterdam. I’d nipped to the loo and came back to find him giving a young man a hard pounding in a dark corner. I was turned on but also fuming as he hadn’t asked my permission and the man was also very good looking. He was equally put out when I got quite hung up on a particularly well-endowed trucker and didn’t hide it well enough.
The other couples we met seemed much like us but sometimes I got the feeling that there was one partner who wanted this more than the other which felt funny. There was also the issue where it was obvious that the invited guest fancied one of us more than the other, which had a tendency to lead to sulking and insecurity.
We split up eventually for various other reasons. I’m now with someone else and we don’t sleep with other people (unless there’s something he’s not telling me). I kind of miss it in a weird way. Do I regret what me and the ex used to do? Not at all. I’ve got a fantastic bank of memories. Would I do it again? Probably not…but never say never. I know that different arrangements suit different people but I also now know what’s right for me.
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