How does a sexually open relationship work? – part 1/4: Basics
The starting situation:
You are in a monogamous (= sexually closed) romantic relationship. Both of you have never talked about whether you actually want to live sexually closed – it’s just the template which has been presented to you by your parents and most people around you since you were a child.
But then there are these fantasies which slip into your mind when you are masturbating or daydreaming out of boredom.
Being a woman in a straight romantic relationship:
You think one of your mutual male friends is hot and really sexy. Sometimes you would like to know how his dick looks like or how he would make you feel in a sexual situation.
Or you would like to try out another dick once in a while, simply for the excitement of something new. Or you think the new female friend of an acquaintance is quite hot.
Usually, you are not attracted to women, but she has pretty tits, and you wonder how they would look naked and how it would feel for you if you touched them with your hands.
Or you would like to try out sex with a woman just to know how it feels and if you are into it like in your fantasies.
Being a man in a straight romantic relationship:
You think a woman from your circle of acquaintances is hot and really sexy. Sometimes you would like to know, what she looks like naked or how her pussy would feel around your dick if you fucked her. Or you would like to try out another pussy once in a while, simply for the excitement of something new. Or you have masturbated together with some friends when you were in puberty. Women to have sex with were rare at the time, but masturbating with the guys felt weirdly good. How would you feel now if you did it again, but together with a woman this time? Or you would like to try sex with a man, just to know how it feels and if you are into it like in your fantasies.
Being a woman in a lesbian romantic relationship:
You think one of your mutual female friends is hot and really sexy. Sometimes you would like to know, what her pussy looks like or how she would make you feel in a sexual situation.
Or you would like to try out another pussy once in a while, simply for the excitement of something new. Or you think the new male friend of an acquaintance is quite hot.
Usually, you are not attracted to men, but he has a really aesthetic body, and you wonder what he would feel like as a biological dildo. Or you would like to try out sex with a man, just to know how it feels and if you are into it like in your fantasies.
Being a man in a gay romantic relationship:
You think a guy from your circle of acquaintances is hot and really sexy. Sometimes you would like to know how his dick looks like or how it would feel if you fucked him or got fucked by him. Or you would like to try out another dick once in a while, simply for the excitement of something new. Or you think the new female friend of an acquaintance is quite hot.
Usually, you are not attracted to women, but she has pretty tits, and you wonder how they look naked and how it would feel for you if you touched them with your hands.
Or you would like to try out sex with a woman, just to know how it feels and if you are into it like in your fantasies.
Whether you have straight, homosexual or bisexual fantasies or all of them at once, they have one thing in common: With relationship work and solution-oriented communication, all these sexual fantasies can be pursued in real life within a committed, loving and stable romantic relationship, without secrecy or “cheating”. This is a well-supported fact – regardless of what your friends, your acquaintances, your community, your parents or your relatives will think or might have to say about it. Their opinions matter not if they have no experience in this area (which they will – most probably – not have).
As a conclusion: You wish to pursue erotic experiences and casual sex with other people than your romantic partner. This pursuit is called swinging. Therefore swingers are people who wish to live the same fantasies as you – the pursuit of a sexual level inside AND outside of their existing romantic relationship(s).
But how do we do this as a couple?
- Take some time for each other to talk about your relationship.
- Describe your sexual fantasies to your partner.
- Pay attention to the reactions of your partner.
- Name the feelings you have when your partner tells you about his/her sexual fantasies.
- If there are feelings like fear or confusion, talk about them too and look at possible causes.
- Fantasize about erotic scenarios together.
- Tell them to each other while actually having sex and use them to spice up your sex life.
At this point, the internalised unconscious patriarchal constructs of society play an important part: A popular beginner’s mistake is to mix-up romantic activities (kissing, smooching, cuddling, caressing) pertaining to the romantic level (= intimacy scale Level 6) and sexual activities pertaining to the sexual level (= intimacy scale Level 3).
In order to avoid emotional turbulences, only carry out romantic activities between you, the romantic relationship partners. With other swingers, only exchange activities pertaining to the sexual level. If you come across other swingers who exchange romantic activities, they will usually be couples or polycules who also only do this amongst themselves – just like you.
“But then, casual sex sounds totally robotic and kind of cold – so swinging is about only touching other people at their genitals?!”
Well – no. A satisfying sexual level with someone else does (hopefully!) include more than genital stimulation by a person who is mostly acting like a robot. If you have come across a story of such a sexual situation or if you have actually experienced one, it was simply bad sex with a supposedly dumb or very inexperienced and insecure sexual partner.
With other swingers, you can enjoy giving and receiving sensuously erotic massages, opening up tense muscles on your whole body, petting, lustful touching,getting touched, dirty talk, exhibitionistic and voyeuristic situations and perhaps even some spanking. And we have not yet listed mutual masturbation, hand jobs, fingering, oral sex, fucking, sex toys, vibrators, etc. – and all of this in a group with another couple or several other people…
Admit it – you got aroused just by reading this description, right? 😉
“I can’t imagine having sex without kissing, really. Isn’t something missing somehow then?”
That is a typical example of patriarchal constructs hidden at the root of society. You believe – consciously or subconsciously – in the patriarchal construct called monogamy, the patriarchal construct called polyamory (which is a close-to-home modification of the construct called monogamy), or the patriarchal construct of the social role “woman” in general.
This is not your fault – these concepts have been displayed and taught to you by nearly every person around you since you were an infant. However, it’s now your responsibility to recognise and to deconstruct these concepts and to replace them with YOUR authentic and working concepts – as long as you really wish to pursue a sexually open relationship instead of being content with your sexually closed romantic relationship.
Keep in mind: Having casual sex is a natural and completely justified wish of every person, be it women, men or non-binary genders. You don’t need to have a crush or fall in love, love, cuddle or kiss a sexual partner, in order to enjoy any sexual experience with a new, strange person. Choose persons who you are comfortable with, to whom the principle of consent is natural and who treat you with respect. Allow yourself to enter a sexual level without romantic activities with him/her/them, just as it is depicted in the text above. You will experience that sex doesn’t need to be accompanied by any romantic activities in order to feel emotionally pleasant, lustful and satisfying.
“We are a couple and we think your recommendation to avoid romantic activities is bullshit. We would like to kiss and/or cuddle at least some of the nice people who we have sex with – not just each other.”
Sure, it is your choice whether you will pursue this recommendation. Obviously, this text can’t prevent you from doing whatever you wish to do. However, don’t be surprised by some follow-up effects: Romantic activities like kissing, smooching, cuddling or caressing will invariably activate subconscious longing for a mutually shared romantic level, for either one or most likely all persons involved.
Therefore, if you exchange romantic activities with other people than your romantic partner, your relationship will soon be suffering from strange feelings of insecurity and jealousy which you won’t be able to talk about in a reasonable way. If you exchange romantic activities while regularly having sex with acquaintances or friends, don’t be surprised if one of you develops a crush on one of them.
Keep in mind: The confusion of activities pertaining to the sexual level and the ones pertaining to the romantic level are the MAIN REASON why sexually open relationships fail or revert back to a sexually closed status – because they didn’t work as intended.
“We are a couple and are having discussions about our sexual fantasies. Why are there – all of a sudden – uncomfortable feelings and most of the time, we end up in an argument?”
If one’s romantic partner wishes to have sex with someone else, fear due to expected personal failure or to lose ones’ romantic partner can easily come up. That’s why it is so important to look for the causes which can often be found in the patriarchal constructs of society.
The patriarchal constructs called monogamy and polyamory both contain the same two lies:
- Desires and wishes at the sexual level and the romantic level are the same thing.
- If someone is sexually attracted to another person, a desire for intimacy at the romantic level will always be a part of this attraction.
Moreover, the patriarchal construct called monogamy adds the following lie:
As long as the romantic relationship is healthy for both persons involved, it is not possible to desire another person sexually.
All these statements are lies within a bigger patriarchal construct and thus completely false.
Therefore, if one’s romantic partner desires casual sex with someone else, it is NOT a guarantied outcome that:
- he/she has a crush on or has fallen in love with someone else
- he/she does not love you any more
- he/she is no longer sexually interested in you
Nevertheless, and as a reason at the same time, you have to talk with each other about possible negative effects or feelings and your fears.
Because if your mutual sex life, your emotional intimacy or your romantic intimacy is not enough or even missing in your romantic relationship(s), the pursuit of a sexually open relationship is rather an escape from the conflicts than a solution for both of you. It will most probably even accelerate a separation which has already been an hidden issue under the carpet.
So, before pursuing your sexual fantasies in real life, talk with each other about what you can do to improve the sex life between just the two of you.
At the sexual level (intimacy scale Level 3):
Is there a particular sexual fantasy which you would like to try, but until now, you didn’t have the guts to tell your romantic partner?
Are there some behavioural patterns of your romantic partner that regularly annoy you during sex?
(Typical for straight sex: If the woman signals “I like what you’re doing right now” verbally (“Yes!”, “Right there”, “Keep going”) or non-verbally (moaning, pleasure noises), the man suddenly changes his moves or rhythm and puts the woman off from her momentarily good feelings)
If a woman tells or signals you signs of pleasure as a momentous reaction, she literally means that! Dear male sexual partner, so just don’t fucking change anything in your movement or rhythm as a reaction!)
At Level 4 and 5:
- Has your mutual lifestyle gotten boring lately?
- Does your lifestyle mostly consist of everyday chores and you are missing quality time?
- Would you like to pursue a mutual interest or a mutual hobby/project as a couple?
- Would you like to get to know your romantic partner better and talk more about each other’s thoughts and feelings?
At Level 6:
Do you wish for more romantic quality time with one another, caresses, cuddling, positive feedback, and/or affectionate attention?
If there is an issue on either one or all of these levels, you need to talk about what is missing and do some relationship work in order to integrate the missing aspects into your romantic relationship.
If you are totally stuck and don’t know how to step out of mutual reproach any more, consider relationship coaching or marriage consultation. A few meetings can solve issues that previously seemed without prospect any more.
However, it would be a very bad idea to avoid psychological consultation until the culmination point “Either consultation or we will separate”. Romantic relationships at this point are usually so wrecked that even very experienced marriage consulters will only be able to guide you through a separation process with the smallest amount of mutual emotional damage possible.
If you don’t have any issues at the intimacy Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 or if you have successfully challenged a pre-existing issue together, you can start inviting other people into your sex life and pursuing your sexual fantasies in real life.