Ask John & Jackie: Pros and Cons of Open Relationships

Dear John & Jackie,

Hi! I’m enjoying your videos so far. I wanted to share my story and ask some questions about the swinger lifestyle.

I was raised as a Mormon, which is a fundamentalist cult-like strict faith. It is sexually shaming and suppressing unless you are married, and even then, there isn’t much openness and experimentation emphasized. I realized the church was a hoax and left, but it took me until I was 28 (I left less than a year ago).

I am now in a relationship of about 6 months. He is my first sexual partner. My viewpoints on all kinds of things have evolved radically since I left the church, and continue to. Some of those things had already evolved for me, such as — I saw absolutely nothing wrong with gay marriage, which was prohibited and discouraged in the church. Obviously I see nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve opened my mind.

One thing that I’ve started thinking about more, which I would never have considered previously, is threesomes and open relationships. We have joked about it, but I kind of started thinking about it more seriously and doing a lot of research. He has always been curious about trying an open relationship so that he could know whether he even liked it or not before writing it off, but none of his girlfriends would have been into it. I seem to be okay “thinking about it” but I’m afraid that I’m just fooling myself, and that it would not go well, or it would ruin my relationship if I tried it out. Here are my fears and my pro-cons. Perhaps you can offer some insight, but I am coming from a very different lifestyle than most people who become swingers. I’m at the VERY earliest stages of thinking about it.

PROS:

  • I can try more sexual partners (since I’ve only had ONE), which will bring me more experience and pleasure, and teach me more techniques to please my partner
  • Having more partners wouldn’t mean I have to end my relationship
  • I firmly believe in freeing your partner as much as possible to be themselves and express/fulfill themselves. I’d never considered it on a sexual level until now, but I’ve thought more and more about it.
  • I may feel less jealousy or suspicion, because we would communicate openly and I he wouldn’t feel a need to sneak around behind my back.
  • I wouldn’t worry about my partner cheating (which currently is a fear! ;))
  • I may feel more love and acceptance of all people (especially women)
  • My partner may be more satisfied and content in life
  • I will be empowered as a woman
  • I will more fully overcome my upbringing of shaming and suppression. Instead it will be about total authenticity and embracing my beautiful sensuality. I have already had to heal from that and it’s a work-in-progress.
  • If I get married, we will never reach that breaking point where we’re struggling and feel the need to get out and date because we’re sick of each other. Instead, we’ll have been proactive about that.
  • It may increase the level our trust and communication
  • For both of us — that magic of first meeting someone and feeling the chemistry never has to fully disappear. We’ll always have a craving for that and now we could have it forever.
  • I would never need to look on jealously at someone who had a more freedom-based relationship or as myself if I should have experimented with it.
  • I like talking to him about his past relationships. It helps me digest them and not see them as a threat.

CONS/FEARS:

  • I don’t know how to date. I’ve never dated outside my church until now, and certainly never been intimate with someone I wasn’t dating.
  • I didn’t even really like dating before. It was tiring and painful. Of course, for me, it was more about looking for a life partner instead of having fun; this type of dating might be more fun!
  • I am an introvert, and my partner is much more gregarious. He would have a much easier time finding dates, and I would be more likely to be reading a book at home feeling depressed that he’s not around. I know it’s not a competition, but I would feel like he was the only one benefitting if I couldn’t get dates. I find it very easy to ignore people in public, but he loves looking at women, engaging with people, etc.
  • No idea how the logistics work. Like… is our house off boundaries? Do we rent hotel rooms? Their place only? How do you find people to date?
  • He might fall in love with someone else.
  • I might fall in love with someone else.
  • I will continue to age, and he will date younger and younger women, constantly comparing me. I feel like the double standard would just be even more emphasized in an open relationship. Am I wrong?
  • I am pretty open minded but do feel some jealousy when my BF flirts with/checks out other women when I’m present. He doesn’t do it intentionally; I can just tell when he’s attracted to someone else and is more engaging with them. I worry that my jealousy would eat me alive!
  • I’m afraid at failing (being a bad lover, not being able to come etc — this is a legitimate concern because I just barely became sexually active! As I’m healing, I can be hard to please and vulnerable)
  • Our relationship might fail
  • It may make me feel like I’m not satisfying him
  • I am already going through so many changes. This might shock my system.
  • I like knowing that my partner and I have no STIs. Adding more and more partners to the mix seems like tempting fate.
  • My entire LARGE family is married and monogamous and quite conservative. None of them watch porn (or if they do, it’s underground and considered “sinful”), none of them would ever consider cheating or they’d get kicked out of the church, and they would be extremely judgmental to learn of that lifestyle. It would require a lot of either hiding, or facing constant judgment and shaming. I’ve already dealt with so much of that just from leaving the church. They are not embracing of my lifestyle even as is.
  • It’s hard for me to fathom bringing other people into such an intimate part of our lives. Sure, I can fantasize about a threesome, but I feel like I rely on the privacy to be comfortable and trusting in our sexual encounters.
  • We might give it a shot, and one of us may decide to live that way the rest of our lives, and the other won’t like it, which will tear us apart. If we’d never tried it, maybe we could have prevented that.
  • Our relationship is a cradle for my vulnerability. Will that go away?
  • Even though I enjoy my untethered life after the church, there are still little things that resonate with me, since it was my entire world view for my whole life. The sacredness and specialness of marriage between two committed partners still resonates with me. Maybe I need to give it a shot, but it just feels a little wrong for me. The same way I can appreciate homosexual relationships but don’t have a desire to engage in one. How do you take the first step?

Anyway I’ll keep reading your posts and watching your videos and checking out other articles online. I am certainly curious about this lifestyle, but I’ve seen some people hurt by it before, and I’m coming from a very different background. I’m not sure it’s for me. I apologize for the LONG email but hopefully it will be a new and interesting perspective for you, and maybe you’ll have some insights for me. Thanks, and cheers to great, honest, authentic relationships! Xoxo

==============

Dear Curious,

Before I type one more word, I want to say BRAVO!!! I have been involved in the lifestyle for years, but your email blew me away. The time, energy, and thought you put into the pros and cons of opening up your relationship shows me the power each and everyone of us has in changing the course of our lives at any time. I commend you for your honesty and transparency in listing your fears. This can be difficult to do, as we tend to want to shield the world (ourselves and our partners) from our vulnerabilities.

I too, grew up in a religious household, breaking away after 40 some odd years. So I know all about that voice deep within that wants to keep you connected to your beliefs from youth. I know about the “risks” of stepping outside the lines, about breaking out, about the possibility of being separated from family.

But as your list reveals, all of the above issues are profoundly personal. Each of us having to come to terms with what we feel will bring us peace and move us in a direction that keeps us growing. I see a wealth of growth in your email. A willingness to stretch yourself, to find out for yourself. To experience life from a intimate level. but I’m not just talking intimacy from a sexual level, but from all angles in your life. As I’m sure you noticed in writing out your lists in favor and against opening up your relationship, you begin to see a common thread. The revelation that each thought feeds off the next thought whether you are approaching the situation from a positive or negative view. Each list countering the other. So how to muddle through without throwing your hands up in resignation?

This is where communication, trust, and honesty come into play. I remember well the first time John and I actually set about making my fantasy of a threesome become a reality. All the times we scheduled and canceled as my brain and ego and old belief systems battled. The breakthrough for me came twofold. Once, through John’s consistent love and support (and patience) and second, when I decided come hell or high water I was going to own my decision. Whether I lost John through this expansion or not, I was willing to take on the responsibility of my choice. I WANTED to know once and for all, if this swinging John had been spouting the praises of, was really all that. I wanted to know! The adrenaline this “empowerment of me,” brought about, was almost as transformative as the threesome itself.

I have to tell you, I have never participated in something so beautiful. That first time John and I played with another is seared into my memory banks forever. The whole drive home I was on an emotional high. For the first time in my life I was embracing me. I was finally behind the wheel of my own destiny…I couldn’t get enough.

Did I still have moments in which fear set in? You bet! If you have read my blogs you know all about some of my slippery slope moments in which the green eyed monster (jealousy or fear as I like to call it) surfaced. And while I would want to retreat and try to stuff my emotions, John and I always worked (and walked) our way through. Each time we put communication, trust, and honesty at the forefront of our union, the deeper the union could become.

I have had my share of people in the lifestyle ask me about the fear of John falling in love with someone else. My standard response is, “I don’t have any control over him falling in love regardless.” Look half the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce and this is the monogamous standard! Keeping ourselves or our partner in cages, does not protect us from a relationship ending. this is why I am purposeful in my thoughts. I don’t spend my days worrying about what I might lose, instead I focus on what I DO have. The beauty in what I have right this moment with John. This loving with an open hand and heart, I have found (at least in this relationship) to work almost like an oxymoron. The more open my attitude about our relationship, the closer the relationship seems to become. The funny thing is though, that this closeness isn’t on purpose. I’m not giving freedom in an attempt to keep John, nor is John doing it to keep me. We have simply come to see that this is a natural response to this kind of love…a bonus!

I can’t say one way or the other what the right move is for you. Like I said earlier, having an open relationship is highly personal. You and your partner will have to decide how you want to move forward. While all your concerns are valid, it will be up to you (and your partner) to decide whether or not the journey is worth it. But, you have mapped out a great place to start. If you haven’t already done so, take time to share your list with your partner. Talk about the fears and the goals and what you BOTH hope to gain from this consensual non-monogamous lifestyle.

Jackie

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6 Comments

  • Lynn Moorhead says:

    Great letter from Curious, and an outstanding response as always from you Jackie.
    I say BRAVO to both of you.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Lynn M.

  • Texas Girl says:

    Great read! Your thought process is right on and if you communicate like this with you partner, y’all will for sure figure out what’s best for the two of you! It’s amazing to me still to see how the lifestyle has brought me and my husband closer than ever! Good luck to you both!

  • SuzieQ says:

    Wow such an amazing email and such well organized thoughts . Bullet points for exploration . I too was raised a very shamed and judgemental catholic .. I have spent years not being able to enjoy sex because of that . I finally one day did as you and decided there were things I had to know .. had to …. i have been married since early 20′.s and been faithful but my heart and soul needed to know what else there was .. so step by step I did as you are … connecting , questioning , thinking , and really challenging the perceived societal limits . … it’s a process and an investment in yourself . Proceed as you can and test the waters .. see what comes back .. it has made our relationship closer and the discussions we have had and the detail about sex was never something I could ever do before .. our sex play has expanded and the first time I saw my spouse hard for another women it was such a kinky turn on … I had mixed feelings later and we talked about it but ultimately the point u made about finding that “first time ” feeling is such an amazing feeling to combine in a relationship . It’s another level of consciousness that most others won’t ever experience due to fear … fear alone is so limiting .so I applaud you for deeply remaking yourself by considering the Real risks . I agree w Jackie … we don’t keep ourselves “safe ” by putting others in a cage .. it doesn’t work .. it isn’t working and so we are cheating and divorcing as a backlash I believe . But ultimately others have the need to grow and discover also … this is simply one way.
    Enjoy your radical discovery !!

  • This was a great share and post Jackie and John! I too must applaud “Curious” for her courage and hope she can one day say “I did it and there can be no regrets!” I loved this so much guys I had to share it on my blog as well. As always, thank you for all you two do for more whole, fulfilling lives! (huge smile!)

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